Review: “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh

Review: “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated on May 12th, 2015
Format: Hardcover
AmazonBarnes & Noble
One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One NightsThe Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

I wrote this review, and then I rewrote it. Because I wasn’t happy with the way the review turned out so much more negatively than I think I really felt about the book as a whole. And my post-reading reflection has really made me see the story in a new light (I wish I could reread it!).

I do think that perhaps the book is a bit over-hyped, because my expectations were up * HERE * (through the roof and up in the clouds!), while my experience reading it was much more mellow than I think I was expecting — what I was expecting being fiery hate turned to passionate love, breathless action and deceit hiding around every corner, and my heart being torn to bits by the romance.


Find me on Instagram: @everybookaworld

Yet this wasn’t the book I read at all; the book I read was a lot less flashy and fast-paced, but instead goes about carefully crafting a beautiful story in its own way. I don’t want to dump a bunch of metaphors on you guys, but I’ve thought of one that really represents quite well how I feel about the story and I can’t get it out of my mind. The Wrath and the Dawn is a lot like savoring an elegant, fine wine (or so I would imagine) — you take small sips as you come to distinguish the taste and are surrounded by the aroma, and it’s not until you finish the glass that you are affected by its potent, heady pull.

The rich and well-imagined setting drew me into a seductive world of intrigue, beauty and mystery. Never did I question if I was actually there in the story, because Ahdieh’s lush description and imagery surrounded me and really appealed to all my senses. You can feel the hot sun and blowing sand, smell the fragrant scent of flowers enveloping the courtyards, and taste the mouthwateringly delicious platters of food that are served. (Ohh guys, the food. THE FOOD. You will need to eat something while reading this, I guarantee it.) You will feel the silky touch of gossamer silk and the weight of the heavy mantles and jewels worn, and truly see the ornate magnificence of the palace and the beauty of the clothing.

Shahrzad (Shazi for short) is such a refreshing heroine who won all of my respect and admiration. Seriously, I would hug the girl if I could for being all that she is. I appreciate her to the moon and back for not underestimating herself like the plague of other heroines out there. She’s quite talented and very clever, and has incredible inner strength and mental fortitude. Most importantly, she believes in herself and doesn’t put herself down. Though at times she can be a bit brash and her stubbornness occasionally affects her ability to see things clearly, I had no doubts as to why the entire palace was so taken with her.

“You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure.”

But what I really wanted to see more of from Shazi that I felt like I never truly got was her love for her friend Shiva. When I saw that she was volunteered to be the Caliph’s next bride to avenge her best friend’s murder, I was so ready for the best friend feels. I was ready for the heartbreaking Shiva flashbacks to start rolling in, to grieve alongside Shahrzad and fuel my own murderous anger towards Khalid. And I got but maybe two half-hearted memories and a few sentences of apostrophe directed towards Shiva.

Which brings me to the mighty Caliph of Khorasan, eighteen year-old boy-king Khalid. Khalid was not all all the person I was expecting, and there is much more to him than meets the eye. His horrid reputation precedes him, as he’s constantly described as a ruthless murderer, a true monster. Yet not once did I feel these things were true. Just from the synopsis alone, we are told he is incredibly different, “a boy with a tormented heart.” The prologue tells us that we should question the reason behind his “senseless” killings. He is incredibly jaded, has an exterior of stone, and a simmering temper that is fearsome when provoked. Yet it would be a mistake to think of him only as we are told (“monster”) or as he appears (cold). I think I clung to this portrayal far too long, and sometimes failed to see the truth. He has incredible depth as a character that must be unearthed bit by bit, revealed in its own due time. 

“Trust that the man you see now is a shadow of what lies beneath.”

The romance is the heart and soul of the story, and it is beautiful. Despite the adverse circumstances, the two have an instantly palpable chemistry, which initially leads to butting heads but slowly develops into captivating romance. I felt the love, and to me Khalid and Shazi seem to have an deep understanding of each other on another level, even when their secrets were like a gulf between them. Their romance is a fragile thing, intimate and dear, yet prone to destruction from so many forces. In so many ways their relationship is very serious and adult, so on my part, at least, there was no swooning or squealing. But it is still a force to behold, filled with emotion, subtlety, and intensity.

“I know love is fragile. And loving someone like you is near impossible. Like holding something shattered through a raging sandstorm. If you want her to love you, shelter her from that storm…And make certain that storm isn’t you.”

There are so many interesting side characters that I loved, though I do wish we had more from them. I liked humble and wise Omar, eccentric and caring Musa, sassy and sharp Despina, and so many more characters. I have a huuuge soft spot for Jalal, the captain of the guard who is Khalid’s cousin. His curls, his confidence and teasing, and his trust and insight wormed their way into my heart. Then there’s Tariq, Shazi’s childhood friend and first love who tries to “rescue” her. He’s misguided in so many ways, and while his sense of being entitled to having Shazi and not really listening and trusting in her nettled me to no end, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. Shahrzad’s family, on the other hand, could’ve used more fleshing out. I felt the least connected to them by far.

The pacing is what was tough for me, because it is unique and different from what I was expecting. It takes some time to establish the setting and the characters, and for so long nothing seems to happen that isn’t described in the synopsis. I think this is what kept getting me distracted and putting down the book. Sometimes the plot seems to flounder, meander. But what I think I recognize now is that because it is the romance that is central to the story, and must be carefully developed, the plot is bound to be slow. But the end part was GREAT — so much action, and all the potential finally fulfilled! I still can’t help but wish that it didn’t all have to be withheld to the end. It’s like I saw all that Ahdieh was capable of writing, but confined only to the last part.

AND THERE IS A HEARTBREAKING CLIFFHANGER. I liked its delicious torture, though I’m actually pretty confused about things. View Spoiler »

I think my biggest complaint is that I just wanted MORE. Of a lot of things. Which isn’t entirely awful. As a matter fact, the book even started to deliver on it near the end, and I actually have a good deal of faith that book 2 WILL deliver.

Also, PSA: the very important glossary is wedged BETWEEN the end of book 1 and the sneak preview to book 2.  Oh, if only I had known!

The Wrath and the Dawn was not the book I was expecting to read, but it slowly drew me in until its ending pulled me under.

Intoxicating, beautiful, and full of secrets.


Review: “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson

Review: “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy NelsonI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Published by Penguin on September 16th 2014
Format: Hardcover
AmazonBarnes & Noble
A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell 

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

[Warning: review partially written under the influence of this heady, intoxicating book. Language may or may not have been hijacked by Noah Sweetwine’s incredible voice.]

Oh, man. I would review this just by stringing together quote after beautiful quote if I could! Seriously, I could do it. I liked about 23 quotes on Goodreads. (My secret mission may or may not be to convince you to read it from the quotes alone. 😉 )

“Who knows if [maybe] destiny is just how you tell yourself the story of your life?”

As mentioned in the synopsis, I’ll Give You the Sun has a really unique structure — and it creates a one-of-a-kind story that you can’t forget. The book has 2 POVs: the first being Noah as he narrates their life at about 13 years old, and the second being Jude as she narrates their life at 16. During the time between the two perspectives, it’s clear that some major things have happened that have caused the twins to painfully grow apart until they hardly recognize each other. Both POVs feature pivotal moments in their lives as the reader tries to piece together what happened.

“This is what I want: I want to grab my brother’s hand and run back through time, losing years like coats falling from our shoulders.”

Though I hesitate to use the term (because I’m not sure that it accurately describes it, though it’s the only word I really have), the book is full of magical realism and I absolutely LOVED it! It took a little time to adjust, wondering if some of the outrageous things described we really happening, but once I learned to roll with it, there was no going back. For me, it magnified the emotions of everything that was happening and made it that much stronger and dizzyingly brilliant. It made the ordinary extraordinary.

“There’s something going on in his face right now, something very bright trying to get out — a dam keeping back a wall of light. His soul might be a sun. I’ve never met anyone that had the sun for a soul.”

And this book just has so many “-isms,” I’ll-give-you-the-sun-isms. Things that make the book so special and types of “inside jokes” that people who haven’t read the book would be utterly confused by. Like that you should probably cry if I call you a “broken umbrella,” or that you should be pretty angry if I call you a “toilet-licking, garbage-headed scum-sucker.” (Then again, maybe that one’s not so hard to figure out, haha.) And Clark Gable knows that you shouldn’t just go around handing out oranges to people because that is DANGEROUS.

Each different perspective is also broken up by snippets unique to each POV that are so like that character, and provide insight. Noah’s snippets are the portraits he paints in “the invisible museum” of his mind (he’s an artist). Jude’s are prices of bizarre advice and remedies found in the “bible” she inherits from her grandmother (she’s a bit superstitious). I enjoyed them so much!

(SELF-PORTRAIT: Boy Rowing Madly Back Through Time)
If a boy gives a girl an orange, her love for him will multiply

But undeniably, it was really Noah Sweetwine who stole the show. This boy. I LOVE THIS BOY. I don’t think I couldn’t like him even if I tried. (And trying would be a terrible crime.) His voice is so purely honest and emotional. At 13 Noah is shy but passionate, his whole world awash in colors and images, and his whole life is his art. He feels like no one understands him but Jude.

“It occurs to me that Jude does this too, changes who she is depending on who she’s with. They’re like toads changing their skin color. How come I’m always just me?”

That is, until he meets Brian. The way Noah describes Brian is like a heaven-sent being. (PORTRAIT, SELF-PORTRAIT: The Boy Who Watched the Boy Hypnotize the World) Brian is nerdy just like Noah, and he has this incredible inner energy. Noah’s world shifts as soon as he meets him, because he finally finds someone else who understands him. Their feelings for each other are exhilarating and warm, tentative and infectious. I’ll confess, I had I only read two other LGBTQ romance books before this, and neither were great. But Brian and Noah? Their romance blows EVERYTHING out of the water.

“I’m thinking the reason I’ve been so quiet all those years is only because Brian wasn’t around yet for me to tell everything to.”

Onto Jude, “the patron saint of lost causes.” Yes, while it took me a little while to warm up to Jude — she isn’t exactly warm and huggable — she eventually won me over. At 16 Jude is a girl lost, hiding from the world with her life “on pause.” She’s struggling to deal with so many unresolved issues in her life that she’s kind of buried herself and resorted to her superstitious “bible-thumping,” and above all, her boycott. But you see the she does have a strong will and plenty of determination, and that she has so much guilt that is just tearing her up inside. She does care, she just needs to remember that it’s ok to show it.

“I think you can sort of slip out of your life and it can be hard to f ind a way back in.”
“What if I’m in charge of my own damn light switch?”

I first decided to pick up this book because of Noah and Jude’s sibling-hood, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a big part of the story, but also not the central focus — I guess I’d say it’s like a very crucial frame to the story that is all-important, but not always the center of attention. I’m sure that anyone who is close with their siblings can relate pretty well, but as a triplet myself, everything about them hit me so hard and reminded me of my sisters and I. Their famous shoulder-to-shoulder “smush” pose that makes them feel complete together, the way they play at splitting up the world for world domination — even the way they both marry a madrone tree when they were five (with Jude also being the minister). Their incredible closeness and shared imagination felt so familiar. And the way Jude worries about how much Noah has changed and how their relationship is nonexistent — it KILLED me inside.

When twins are separated, their spirits seal away to f ind the other

And there’s so much more to discover that I didn’t touch on if you read the book. Two other amazing characters, another fated romance, tangibly heartbreaking family issues, more awesome art stuff, ghosts, jealousy, donuts, penis panic attacks… wait, what? I guess you’ll just have to read it to find out. * mwah ha ha ha *

If you’ve ever thought about starting this book, START IT. If you’ve never heard of this book, well, you have now, so READ IT ALREADY!


ARC Review: “Legacy of Kings” by Eleanor Herman

ARC Review: “Legacy of Kings” by Eleanor HermanLegacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #1
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 25th, 2015
Format: eARC
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

I received access to this galley for free from Paper Lantern Lit’s Trendsetter program through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I must admit, when I saw everyone across the blogosphere getting excited for Legacy of Kings, I saw the appeal but couldn’t really share the excitement. I’m a tad ambivalent when it comes to Historical Fiction — I don’t really seek it out, but every once in a while a synopsis will catch my interest, though the book will usually go to the bottom of my TBR pile. Legacy of Kings also has fantasy elements, but it reads primarily like historical fiction.

I’m gonna be honest here — Legacy of Kings wasn’t really my cup of tea. While it undoubtedly has things going for it, like the plot and world building, I felt that it had some major flaws that prevented me from really getting into it for the most part.

Legacy of Kings promises a lot on the historical side of things, and it definitely delivered it. Somehow I never remember learning anything in great detail about Alexander the Great in history class besides his empire — but evidently, I was missing a lot. Herman takes some historical details about Alexander’s youth — like his best friend (Hephaestion), his royal parents, and his betrothed (Zofia) — and brings his story to life. The world building is quite sound, and really transports the reader to Ancient Greece and Persia. So many details throughout the book show that Herman really did her research, from the ancient Greek clothing and armor to the luxurious Persian perfumes and oils.

As for the story itself? I have so many different feelings about it, they hardly even make sense to me. 

For reference, the story is told from about 7 different POVs: Kat, a peasant girl with secrets; Jacob, her foster brother who is in love with her and seeks to prove himself; Alex, heir to the throne and quite insightful, yet frustrated by his lack of power; Heph, Alex’s loyal and proud best friend; Cyn, Alex’s half sister who rejects her destiny and strives for more; Olympias, the “evil” queen and Alex’s mother; and Zofia, who is engaged to Alex but flees her palace to try and be with the man she really loves.

Whew. And that was just a bare-bones description.

When I step back and think of the story that was told, I’m amazed. That Herman manages to weave so many stories into one is pretty incredible. In some senses, the world really comes to life because we hear from so many different perspectives and have so many pieces of the story. You just get to know so much.

Yet the book’s structure overall just didn’t work for me. Immediately upon starting the book, I noticed that it was written in third person, present tense. Noting the tense and narration style at the beginning of a book is not something I almost ever do consciously. Yet it was so completely jarring for some reason that most of the time I never felt truly immersed in the book. It was always “Kat does this, Alex does that, Heph is over here doing this”… It was weird. I felt very much outside of the book while reading it, and that is not how I want to feel when reading.        

The strange narrative style, combined with having so many POVs, really made the characters fall flat for me. Not only did I never really feel like I was there with the character when I was reading, but the POVs were also switching pretty frequently, especially in the beginning. I never really felt emotionally invested in the characters or their relationships. Characters can make or break a book for me, and in this book they definitely didn’t do it for me.

I guess if I didn’t feel for the characters, it should only follow that I wasn’t really into the romances. But it was more than that — the romances kind of felt like a mess to me. The “main” romance between Kat and Jacob starts in the very first pages with their first kiss, so I felt like I never really got to see the romance develop. Their romance feels like it should be quite central to the story, but it feels a lot like a mere plot device and is never really given enough focus. Meanwhile, there were multiple hints of romance at other points in the book that felt unnecessary and out of place. It felt like a love triangle formed out of nowhere, for no good reason. I wasn’t really shipping anyone together, and it all felt pretty jumbled. 

There were some bright spots to the multiple POVs — like getting to read from the POVs of the “villains.” Most books, you never really get to know what the supposed “enemy” is up to, yet here we get peeks that give us their motives and snippets of their actions. Storyline-wise, my favorite POVs were Zofia and Kat: Zo because I loved the Persian setting and her runaway plot line, and Kat because she was the most relatable and the core of the magical elements in the book that make Legacy of Kings more than just historical fiction.

So it’s kind of hard to really say how I feel about the book overall. I think that readers who love historical fiction will just about devour the book, because getting a peek into a reimagined history of Alexander the Great’s youth is just to good to pass up. But for me, it was hard to get past the narration style, and I was pretty disappointed in the romances and the fact that I didn’t feel anything for the characters. The pacing is also on the slower side, and while it was fascinating to see all the pieces of the POVs come together at the end, I had mostly already guessed the big reveal.

A fascinating look at a reimagined history, but I was disappointed by the way the story was told, and was let down by the characters and their relationships.


Review: “The Start of Me and You” by Emery Lord

Review: “The Start of Me and You” by Emery LordThe Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on March 31st 2015
Format: Hardcover
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

For months now I’ve been hearing people rave about the amazingness of Emery Lord’s books, and it’s slowly been wearing me down. The synopses of her books are adorable, and let’s face it — the covers are gorgeous! So I finally caved and reserved The Start of Me and You from the library, and drooled over seeing the cover in person when I finally got it.

What can I say? It’s a sweet book, and I enjoyed reading it, but I was far from being blown away by it. I know so many bloggers out there that absolutely loved it, and I just never got there with this book. To love a book — or even just to really, really like it — it needs to stand out to me or get me excited about it in several ways, and that wasn’t the case for me with The Start of Me and You. Too much of the story just felt so familiar and predictable to me. Maybe I’ve just read a lot of books like it before, but… that shouldn’t have to matter.

Who is our MC, Paige? She’s an “every girl” kind of character — nice enough, organized and put-together, annoyed by her little sister, a little innocent/oblivious, not super popular but liked by everyone, and supported by her own little group of friends. In all honesty though, I forgot her name a couple of times throughout the book: she’s just not that memorable. She actually gets a nickname in the book inspired by Jane Bennet of Pride and Prejudice:

“‘You seem much more like a Jane Bennet.’ My jaw dropped in offense. ‘That’s kind of mean!’ ‘No, it’s not! Jane is deeply underappreciated.’ ‘Because she’s boring…'”

My feelings about the MC, Paige.

My feelings about the MC, Paige.

I liked her well enough — except when she foolishly kept pursuing an unattainable crush — but she felt pretty flat to me. And boy, does it take her forever to finally wake up and see the blinding light that is one of the major plot points.

Yet somehow, I was still rooting for her. She has a pretty good character arc as she goes through a sort of self-discovery journey on her way out of her own grief, which featured prominently in the last part of the book and made me more invested in reading and finishing The Start of Me and You. But I still wasn’t able to feel for her personally — more just for the situation she was in. She felt more like a collection of goals (from her plan) and facts (like her interest in screenwriting).  Her saving grace, in my opinion? Her love for the TV show I Love Lucy. It’s a classic and one of my favorites!

And ah, Paige’s friends. You know, I really wanted to like them. And I did — but they never felt real to me. There were three of them (I was about to say four) and I barely could keep them apart. Even now I hope that I have the right name to the right character, but I can’t be sure. Even more than Paige, they really felt like walking lists of traits to me. One is the chill and cool type, another a Type-A personality, another the edgy and impulsive type… yeah. Though they had some cute and touching moments together, and their actions towards one another were admirable, I wasn’t feeling it.

Why did I keep reading? Not ashamed to admit that it was MAX all the way. I LOVED that he was a nerd! I think I had trouble connecting to Paige and her friends — their high school life just really wasn’t much like mine. But Max and his nerdiness, on the other hand — YES. I felt him as a character much more — with his passions, caring gestures,  and smart advice. The slow build-up of the romance was really cute, though later the ending felt a bit like a rom-com to me (yet that didn’t stop me from squealing in delight).

A cute read, but I was mostly underwhelmed.


ARC Review: “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

ARC Review: “Uprooted” by Naomi NovikUprooted by Naomi Novik
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Del Ray on May 19th, 2015
Format: eARC
AmazonBarnes & Noble
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I received access to this galley for free through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gaah, this book was so good! Is it weird that I want to read it again already? This book is just so rich in every way. I don’t even feel like I need it to be a series because as a standalone it was perrrrfect.

I really want to make a point of not going too much into detail about the plot, just because I really like the synopsis — it was enough to intrigue me, and at the same time reveals little about much of the book’s plot. Uprooted was such a compelling read that I didn’t need to know exactly where the plot was going; I trusted what Novik was doing, and it was thrilling to be surprised with so much action and unexpectedness! Besides, I have so much more to rave about…

One of the first things I noticed about Uprooted was how much it reminded me of some of my favorite books — in the best way possible! In no way did this lessen the book, and it instead serves as more of a testament to how, in my mind, it already stands among the fantasy “giants.”

The Dragon and Agnieszka loosely reminded me of Howl and Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle (the movie version by Miyazaki, actually, because I haven’t gotten around to reading the book yet!): a cold and withdrawn wizard, an unassuming yet spirited girl, and a romance that will make you feel ALL THE FEELS. I could seriously swoon over it and ramble on about it for quite a while, but I’m going to restrain myself and leave it at this.  

I was almost immediately reminded of my last favorite fantasy reads (and some of my favorite books of all time), the Grisha trilogy. Uprooted‘s the Wood reminded me of the Fold, only incredibly more insidious, intentionally evil, and, perhaps most disturbingly, awake and aware. * shivers *

“‘There’s something worse than monsters in that place: something that makes monsters.'”

“‘The power in the Wood isn’t some blind hating beast; it can think and plan, and work towards its own ends. It can see into the hearts of men, all the better to poison them.'”

What I will say about the plot, speaking in generalities, is that it was spectacularly fast-paced, and, again, rich. Not even a quarter of the way in I was amazed by the intensity of the action (but boy, if I had only known how much it would escalate!). There was no real waiting for the book to really begin, or the feeling that the action had to be carefully doled out and stretched to last the entire book. I will say though, that the climax seemed to come only slightly before the ending, and the final bit was much more of a “quiet” ending — but honestly, it was probably needed after such a non-stop pace.

The descriptions of magic in Uprooted are just gorgeous. And somehow so easy to understand as well — instead of my eyes just skipping over these parts, I just want to read them all the more closely.

“Instead it seemed to me that the sound of the chanting became a stream made to carry magic along, and I was standing by the water’s edge with a pitcher that never ran dry, pouring a thin silver line into the rushing current.”

The same could probably be said for Novik’s writing in general. It is quiet yet beautiful, and somehow manages to carry such weight in everything it says. Maybe it’s for this reason that Uprooted seems to be on the fast-track to greatness, and has been called “as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.”

“No one was enchanted beyond saving in the songs. The hero always saved them. There was no ugly moment in a dark cellar where the countess wept and cried out protest while three wizards put the count to death, and then made court politics out of it.”

My favorite character, hands down, was the Dragon. Agnieszka is a likable narrator and MC and not undistinguished herself, but the Dragon is an indelible character who drew my attention like no one else. His presence was sorely missed in the parts he wasn’t in, and I loved his cynicism, biting wit, and closely guarded vulnerability.

“He wasn’t a person, he was a lord and wizard, a strange creature on another plane entirely, as far removed as storms and pestilence.”

“‘If you don’t want a man dead, don’t bludgeon him over the head repeatedly,’ the Dragon snapped.”

“The dragon hissed with annoyance: how dare a chimera inconvenience him, coming out of season.”

“He was staring down at the dough trying to keep his scowl, and flushed at the same time with the high transcendent light that he brought to his elaborate workings: delighted and also annoyed, trying not to be.”

Uprooted is probably my favorite book of 2015 so far, and definitely one of my most favorite fantasy novels of all time. I’m also starting to think that what makes Uprooted so much like some of my other favorite fantasies is its true sense of place, even in a fictional world. This is some incredible, effortlessly nuanced and layered world-building right here, and it’s fantastic. I had that lovely, immersed-in-another-world feeling that only truly great fantasy novels can give you. I felt like I knew the kingdom of Polnya and it’s neighbors. I strongly suspect there may be a map in the finished, physical copy, but if there isn’t, SOMEONE NEEDS TO GET ON WITH MAKING IT. (Ok, maybe I should stop now, haha…)

If you treasure fantasy, look no further. Uprooted will sweep you away (or more accurately, knock you breathless).