Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire series, departs from alternate history to explore a fairy tale setting in Uprooted. The story begins with the familiar trappings of a folk story: a medieval village, a sorcerer, a dark forest and two girls, one seemingly perfect, the other nearly comically flawed.

Dangerous creatures and malevolent magic from The Woods threaten Agnieszka and Kasia's small village. Only the Dragon, a solitary sorcerer who lives in a distant tower, can keep the village safe. But the cost of his services is high: every decade, the dragon selects a girl from the village to serve him for the next 10 years, during which time she will not leave his tower.

Everyone in the village believes Kasia, a girl of exceptional skill and grace, will be selected. But when her closest friend, Agnieszka, is chosen instead, Uprooted takes its first step away from the well-worn path of fairy tales as Novik explores the consequences of Agnieszka's sudden captivity. Nothing about Agnieszka's new life is easy, and the decisions she makes while in the Dragon's tower further compound her suffering. For Kasia, who was raised to believe she would be the Dragon's tribute, trying to lead the life she wasn't prepared to have proves nearly fatal.

Novik features multifaceted characters who, even as they pursue a common goal of eradicating evil, seek to satisfy their own desires. Novik successfully creates an inspired world in which good and evil exist on a spectrum, and no one is safe from the corruption of The Woods. --Justus Joseph, bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company

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