Uprooted by Naomi Novik is so enchanting and wonderfully written, it may be my favorite fantasy book that I read this year. The Locus Award Winner, Nebula Award Winner, and Hugo Nominated Novel is well-deserved of its numerous accolades. The magic is created with such a vivid feel that I can't think of another fantasy story that does such a great job convincing me of the feel and practice of fantastical abilities.
The story focused around Agnieszka, a young girl who lives in the small village of Dvernik in the Kingdom of Polnya. I had some trouble getting used to the Polish names for cities, characters, and spells but that is my own shortcoming, not the books. She narrates the book and has always been a messy girl growing up knowing that one of her friends, or herself, will be taken by the mysterious wizard the Dragon when they are of age. Agnieszka, or Nieshka, believes her friend Kasia will be the one taken by the Dragon but the powerful wizard has different plans.
The Dragon is one of the biggest flaws with the book, but some readers may come around to him. He is cruel and abusive towards Nieshka when he takes her out of her village and back to his castle, and I could see how this could be viewed by readers as forgiving of abusive behavior. The Dragon also never turns into a Dragon so for all of the use of the word, there are surprisingly little dragons in the story.
The action and conflict spark from a vicious Wood that sends wolves and "walkers", strange stick-like figure, to capture people of the village and stick them into heart-trees. There is horror in the passages concerning the wood that I found engaging and captivating to read. The action is full of tension, and the solutions never come too easily. Against the Wood is not only the wizards but a monarchy quick to go to war with another kingdom. I found the politics in the capital interesting, and the plot moved quickly there.
Uprooted is a great fantasy book that fans of young adult fiction and strong female protagonists will like. The book kept me engaged throughout and had a solid, satisfying conclusion. Novik does a great job creating a whole world in just one book that some experienced authors take several large books to build up. I had fun reading this novel, and it will definitely be in consideration when I vote for best novel for the Hugo Awards.