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Uprooted by Naomi Novik – Book Review

As part of ‘Fairy Tale February’ I had to read Uprooted as it is a very well known Beauty and the Beast retelling that has been on my TBR forever. There are plenty of readers who didn’t realise that it is a retelling as there is so much more to the story. It definitely has its own identity so it is great whether you are a fan of retellings, fairy tales or fantasy in general. Uprooted has won numerous awards and was a Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel in 2016.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - A Beauty and the Beast Retelling

Title: Uprooted

Author: Naomi Novik

Published: 19th May 2015

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: GoodReads link

Book Review

Agnieszka is your ordinary girl from the valley. No-one in the small village of Dvernik expects her to be chosen to serve the wizard in the tower, especially next to her beautiful best friend Kasia. No-one knows what the Dragon does with the girls he selects but after ten years of service none of the girls return home for long.


The pace of Uprooted was perfect for me. I found it very gripping and it was easy to read. The action and twists are spread apart so well. If I didn’t know how many pages were left I would have thought that I was reaching the end of the book numerous times because the tension was built to that level. I think inferior authors could easily take one aspect of the novel and that be their entire story. Naomi Novik gives you so much more. Her prose is beautiful and her style has a very definite flavour that I was still craving after I had finished the book.

World Building

I adore the world building in Uprooted. Every element has been clearly thought out with a strong sense of atmosphere and vivid settings. My personal favourites are Sarkan’s tower and the wood.

Sarkan’s tower definitely provides a strong Beauty and the Beast element to the story. Here we see Agnieszka locked in a traditional tower, where she learns more about her fate. Plus it has a library, so all bookworms can rejoice. The tower has a lot of elements to it with there being a distinct purpose for its current existence but also myths and legends are part of its history. Without going into any details, there are a few surprises along the way.

There have been so many fairy tales with a dark wood as a theme. This is by far the best that I have ever read. The wood is basically another character in the story and is written with as much depth. It is very much a living entity and I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect set in the wood. It has darkness, light, legends, history, unique creatures and builds a lot of tension.

Naomi Novik’s mother being Polish has clearly influenced her writing. There are many references to Polish culture and Agnieszka’s name is from a Polish tale. It gives the work a sense of authenticity as well as a uniqueness that you rarely find in fairy tale retellings. This is not a book that you have read before even though there are many familiar elements.


As with every other aspect of Uprooted the characters are written extremely well. Sarkan, better known to those in the valley as “The Dragon”, is a wonderful ‘Beast’ character. He is powerful, meticulous, grumpy and has a lot more going on under his skin than people realise. My favourite aspect of his character is that although he develops, as all good characters do, he doesn’t fundamentally change as a person. As a reader we begin to understand what makes him tick and accept him for who he is.

Agnieszka is a great protagonist. She is written as a ‘plain Jane’ but obviously there is a lot more to her. Agnieszka is fundamentally kind and honest though not weak. She isn’t afraid of the truth and would rather face a problem head on than try to hide away. I really enjoy how her relationship with the dragon develops. I would love to say more but I don’t want to spoil anything. Look out for the rose bush as that is one of my favourite aspects.

“He loved his magic, and he would have shared that love with me.”

There are plenty of supporting characters including Kasia, Prince Marek and Solya. They are all very interesting, especially when you look at character motivation and influences.

My Thoughts

By now I am sure you have figured out that I loved this book. It was an extremely enjoyable read. There is so much more to Uprooted than your normal fairy tale retelling and although its foundations stem from Beauty and the Beast it stands up on its own. I am now addicted to Naomi Novik’s writing style. I’m currently reading her other fairy tale retelling Spinning Silver. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, fairy tale retellings or Beauty and the Beast.

Have you read any of Naomi Novik’s books? I would love to hear your thoughts below. If you are a Beauty and the Beast fan looking for other retellings then check out my post here for some other suggestions.

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  • 26th February 2019 at 6:16 pm

    I feel like this is one of those books that is lying in the back of my kindle library somewhere… I’ll have to dig through for it now since your review is positive!!

    • 26th February 2019 at 6:54 pm

      Yes you really need too! It was a book that I thought I would get around to reading at some point and fairy tale February seemed the right time. I wish I had read it sooner!

  • 26th February 2019 at 6:41 pm

    I’ve read this twice and it’s one of my favorite books but only now that you mention it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling do I see the connection :’D great review! You’re right, there’s so much story in her novel, precisely what I love about it ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 26th February 2019 at 6:57 pm

      A lot of people don’t realise. I just knew it was a retelling going in to it so saw the connections quickly. In some ways it makes it even better as you know the story stands up on its own and not just as a retelling. I’m so pleased you love it too.

  • 27th February 2019 at 5:51 am

    I loved Uprooted! I found Novak’s writing style to by really lyrical, which was a quality I never expected in a story. I really want to read Spinning Silver now!

    • 27th February 2019 at 5:14 pm

      It is very lyrical! I’m really enjoying the audio book of Spinning Silver at the moment ๐Ÿ™‚ I highly recommend it.

  • 27th February 2019 at 2:59 pm

    I loved this book too! I think it’s time for a re-read ๐Ÿ˜€

    • 27th February 2019 at 5:15 pm

      Enjoy the re-read! I wanted to pick it up again as soon as I’d finished it.

  • 3rd March 2019 at 9:33 am

    Lovely review! I read Uprooted last year, for me it was a little slow to read but it is really a great book and the magic in it is so great too!

  • 3rd March 2019 at 3:39 pm

    ive read this and spinning silver, i love them both a lot c:

  • 4th March 2019 at 6:24 pm

    This has been on my radar for ages but I’ve heard such mixed things. Lovely to hear some positive things, great review!

  • 5th March 2019 at 3:02 pm

    I absolutely fell in love with this book and Naomi’s writing! I’ve also read Spinning Silver and loved that even more!

  • 5th March 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Had no idea Fairy Tale February was a thing. I feel like I mentioned this before that I had no idea that Uprooted was based of Beauty and the Beast. I am weary of that fairy tale because some author really really butcher the overall story. But your review sounds like that isn’t the case. So I will actually read it lol

  • 11th March 2019 at 3:35 pm

    One of the most important thing in books for me is world building, so it is great to here how successfully done it was in this book. I have been thinking about picking this one up. Great review!

  • 21st March 2019 at 11:33 am

    This sounds like an intriguing read!

  • 27th March 2019 at 6:29 am

    I loved this book and I am glad you enjoyed it as well!! Happy reading!!!!

    • 28th March 2019 at 6:08 pm

      Yay, I am glad you enjoyed it! I can’t wait for Naomi Novik’s next retelling. Fingers crossed there is one in the works already.

      • 29th March 2019 at 2:52 am

        really?!!! Yoohooooo!!!

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