It’s been almost two years since I read Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted,” a lovely, magical tale about a girl named Agnieszka, whose entire world becomes upended in one fell swoop.
Upended by the famous, perhaps infamous, Dragon, that is.
What follows is a beautiful, curious and mystifying tale narrated by a strong, relatable heroine. The story is unique, and the romance is better than most of the junk-food novels I’ve been reading lately.
But the best part, the aspect that is most alive in my memory, is the way Novik describes the process of magic. I was completely addicted to the ways she described the way it felt, the way it looked, even the way it smelled. The diction used to portray it also ingrained itself in my memory. Here’s the example that my brain always manages to go back to:
“Try and match it,” he said absently, his fingers moving slightly, and by lurching steps we brought our illusions closer together until it was nearly impossible to tell them one from another, and then he said, “Ah,” suddenly, just as I began to glimpse his spell: almost exactly like that strange clockwork on the middle of his table, all shining moving parts. On an impulse I tried to align our workings: I envisioned his like the water-wheel of a mill, and mine the rushing stream driving it around. “What are you—” he began, and then abruptly we had only a single rose, and it began to grow.
And not only the rose: vines were climbing up the bookshelves in every direction, twining themselves around ancient tomes and reaching out the window; the tall slender columns that made the arch of the doorway were lost among rising birches, spreading out long finger-branches; moss and violets were springing up across the floor, delicate ferns unfurling. Flowers were blooming everywhere: flowers I had never seen, strange blooms dangling and others with sharp points, brilliantly colored, and the room was thick with their fragrance, with the smell of crushed leaves and pungent herbs. I looked around myself alight with wonder, my magic still flowing easily. “Is this what you meant?” I asked him: it really wasn’t any more difficult than making the single flower had been.
But he was staring at the riot of flowers all around us, as astonished as I was. He looked at me, baffled and for the first time uncertain, as though he had stumbled into something, unprepared. His long narrow hands were cradled around mine, both of us holding the rose together. Magic was singing in me, through me; I felt the murmur of his power singing back that same song.
When I think of how magic might work in the real world, I think of energy, with spices of beauty and belief mixed in. The way Novik shows an energetic connection between the human imagination and nature is completely perfect to me. This theme continues throughout the novel, and it’s most of the reason I was completely hooked.
Not to mention I’d never deny a cute, flirtatious scene where characters are surrounded by books and flowers. Sign me up any day.
Ever since I finished that novel, I’ve been craving something that is even on par with how much I loved this book. I’ve found a few so far on my quest, which I’ll make a separate post on later, but I’m still looking. If anyone has any suggestions, they’re always welcome.