Uprooted Book Review by Naomi Novik

 

Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads Review

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.

My Reveiw

Every ten years in the valley village of Dvernik a seventeen year old girl, born between one October and the next, is taken by the Dragon, the local wizard, to live with him in his castle where they are not seen again until they return home ten years later and then usualy leave the village for good.  These girls are called Dragon-born girls.  Agnieszka is one of these young women.  Her father is a wood cutter and she has three older brothers.  The entire village believes her good friend, Kasia, will be the chosen one.  Kasia is the prettiest and most capable of all the village girls.  When the Dragon appears everyone is shocked when it is Agnieszka who is taken instead.

Agnieszka is left to her own devices when she arrives at the castle with no instructions or guidance about what is expected of her.  As a result she ends up annoying the Dragon with all of her mistakes.  Agnieszka does eventually find her way and surprises herself as well as the Dragon (whose actual name is Sarkan) with her own unrealized strengths and talents.

There is a very strong Beauty-and-the-Beast-like theme running through the story.  The ending is quite different although magic plays a part in both stories.  This book is very magical and has the feeling of an adult fairy tale.

Agnieszka is a very likable heroine.  She is tough, curious, and compassionate.  She finds an inner-strength as a result of her experience with Sarkan that she would never have realized if she was never taken.  This is a stand alone story.  While the ending became a little convoluted for me, I would love to read more about Agnieszka and what else lies ahead for her.

 

The Wolf of Dorian Gray: A Werewolf Spawned by the Evil of Man by Brian S. Ference

the-wolf-of-dorian-grey

Rating: 3/5 stars

Goodreads Description

This expanded edition of the classic philosophical fiction by Oscar Wilde, features all-new scenes in a compelling tale of love, lust, and the werewolf spawned by the evil of man. The story, set in late 1800’s England, follows the life of Dorian Gray, who through ancient Romani magic’s and the skills of an astonishing artist has had his fate and soul irrevocably linked with the last remaining wolf in the forests of England. Dorian revels in the experiences of first love, delights in the art and beauty of the world, relishes the freedom of his youth, and is awakened to the many pleasures of life. His friend and mentor, Lady Helena, provides a guiding hand as he struggles with his conscience and the purpose of living. Meanwhile, the wolf begins to grow and change into a hideous monster that is ravaging the countryside.

“The wolf had begun hunting human prey. They were plentiful in the dark city streets and provided enough good meat to satiate his gnawing hunger. He was still very careful not to let any who saw him live. To do otherwise would displease the Master. He would only stalk those people that were foolish enough to walk alone in the night.” 

My Review

I was requested to read this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.  I didn’t know what to expect from this book going in.  I am always willing to try something new when it comes to reading books.  When I first saw the cover I was a little hesitant because I thought I would be reading a cheesy horror novel, but I was pleasantly surprised when the book turned out to be a mostly faithful retelling of the classic tale with the exception of the addition of the wolf and some character gender changes.

Dorian Gray accompanies his artist friend Sage into the woods so she can collect herbs and leaves for her homemade paints.  They come across a wolf pup who is orphaned when his mother dies in an animal trap.  Dorian tries to open the trap to release the mother wolf but injures his hand and the wolf also has some injuries.  Sage cleans both of them with rags from her art studio.  When she mixes her paints she decides to mix in some of the blood from both Dorian and the wolf which she then uses to paint a portrait of Dorian with the wolf pup.  This is how the magic of of Dorian’s eternal portrait is created and where all of Dorian’s problems and those of his social circle begins.

Dorian is vain and shallow and goes through life without much care for the feelings of others.  As the death toll rises around him, it is the wolf pup’s image that changes and contorts into a vicious creature and Dorian’s image stays the same.  Dorian doesn’t age even though his image stays the same in the portrait.  This is where this story and the original start to diverge.  All of the corruption goes into the wolf pup’s image, turning the wolf cub into an almost human creature.  The parts dedicated to the werewolf I skimmed through because I preferred the human story line more than reading about an animal on the hunt.  I also found it a little too gory for my taste.

I enjoyed the book for the most part.  I liked the traditional part of the story. The writing was very good and easy to read and follow.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson – Book Review

 

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads Description

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

My Review

Rory Deveaux’s family relocates from Louisiana to England for work and Rory is enrolled in a London boarding school.  She becomes good friends with her roommate Jazza and Jazza’s friend Jerome.  A good portion of the beginning of the book is dedicated to Rory adjusting to England, boarding school, and her interactions with her roommate and other students.

While the first Ripper-style murder takes place early on in the story, the supernatural aspect isn’t introduced until almost half way through the book.  Maureen Johnson does a good job of developing the characters and building character relationships as well as a sense of nervousness on campus as more murders occur.

I liked Rory.  She was a strong young woman who has to deal with a lot of change: living in a new country, living away from her family, and dealing with and accepting the new abilities that she didn’t know she had which draws her deeper into the world of the recent murders.

The second half of the book moved faster than the first half and there were more twists and turns.  This is the first book in a series and I look forward to reading the next one.