The Dark, Dark Wood

uprootedIn the dark, dark wood, there was a dark, dark tower. In the dark, dark tower there was a dark, dark tomb. In the dark, dark tomb there was….

Okay, enough of that. The tower in this book is made of white stone, anyway. And it’s filled with magic. So. Onward to the book!

This riveting, plot-packed fantasy novel mines the riches of the Eastern European folktale tradition. Have you ever read the tale of Baba Yaga, the wise old crone who lives deep in the forest in a house that stands on chicken legs? Yes, that tradition. It’s dark, and tangled, and filled with magic, just like the sinister Wood in Naomi Novik’s book Uprooted. The Wood is practically a character, all on its own.

The heroine, Agnieszka, is, in the folktale tradition, an unlikely heroine. She’s homely and awkward and has muddy skirts and scratched legs and a knack for finding blackberries, even out of season, foraging in the dark Wood. She is the only girl in her small village who can work magic. Just as for Harry Potter, this changes her life forever. There is also a wizard involved. Just so you know.

It’s really remarkable how many characters and settings and plot lines Ms. Novik manages to cram into this rich, imaginative 435-page book. Except they aren’t crammed; the whole of the novel is very well-crafted. Ms. Novik completely transports you into Agnieszka’s world.

And, actually, there is a tomb inside the tower, and it’s a dark one, because it’s underground, because it’s, you know, a tomb. The tomb even plays a significant role as a setting, more than once, in the story. But you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens. You’ll be glad you did, I promise you.

Other fantasy novels featuring magic and wizards include:

Thornlost by Melanie Rawn

Steadfast by Mercedes Lackey

The Silvered by Tanya Huff

Bridge of Dreams by Anne Bishop

 

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