[ARC] Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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The Wood stays between the two reigns of Polnya and Rosya, always on the verge of a war. However the Wood is not a normal forest, since it is inhabited by evil creatures, and a sort of dark magic makes impossible to leave it, and everyone who enter the wood is lost forever, like the lost queen of Polnya.

A powerful magician, the Dragon, guards the Polnya wood boundary; the only reward he requires every ten years is a girl of seventeen who has to go with him in his tower. After the ten years none of the girls ever choose to come back to the home country with respect to city life, and none of them was ever harmed by the magician.

Agnieszka has the conviction, like every other person in her village, that her friend Kasia will be chosen by the magician because she is beautiful, graceful and in every way better than the other girls.

With extreme dismay (of the magician himself) the choice falls on Agnieszka, quite plain and quite clumsy. Soon the reason for this is evident: Nieshka has a particular skill for magic and the Dragon will have to teach her to use her powers. Nieshka will also play a crucial role in the history of Polnya, and Uprooted tells her story.

Naomi Novik wrote a beautiful novel, with alive characters easy to like: Nieshka spontaneity, the grumpy magician, the impetuous prince, the envying magicians and the great friendship between the protagonist and Kasia. The idea of the wood is nice, it having a central role in the story. I liked the narration and it’s ironic prompts, mainly in the dialogues between Nieshka and the Dragon.

Uprooted is original, well written and extremely an enjoyable reading, absolutely recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


 Uprooted by Naomi Novik ★★★★★

*I read this book in english

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Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

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Rosamund Hodge, già autrice di Cruel Beauty, un riuscito retelling de “La bella e la bestia”, ha ideato anche un originale retalling di “Cappuccetto rosso”, Crimson Bound.

Rachelle a quindici anni è l’apprendista della zia, una maga che protegge il villaggio dalla magia oscura della Foresta. Rachelle è anche avventata, e, fidandosi troppo di una creatura della foresta, viene legata per sempre alla Foresta, diventandone una sua creatura.

Tre anni dopo Rachelle, ancora umana ma con capacita fisiche oltre l’umano, è una delle protettrici del reame assieme ad altri blood-bound, finchè non le viene assegnato il compito di proteggere Armand, il figlio del re, unico a essere sopravvissuto all’incontro con le creature della foresta senza esserne stato legato.

Rachelle ha intenzione di portare avanti anche il progetto segreto di ritrovare le due spade mitiche che, secondo antichi racconti, avevano sconfitto l’origine del male della Foresta.

Crimson Bound è un romanzo scorrevole, in cui le parti di narrazione si alternano alla leggenda delle due spade. Personalmente l’ho trovato meno avvincente rispetto a Cruel Beauty, Rachelle è un personaggio attivo, ma la maggior parte degli avvenimenti la vedono passiva, e piuttosto miope rispetto ad alleanze e fazioni. In generale la trama è molto lineare (con alcune incongruenze a mio avviso), e in alcuni casi piuttosto prevedibile.

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Rosamund Hodge, author of Cruel Beauty, a good retelling of the “Beauty and the Beast”, wrote also an original retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood”, Crimson Bound.

Rachelle is fifteen and she is her aunt’s apprentice, the woman being a magician who protects the village from the dark magic of the Great Forest. Rachelle is also reckless, and, trusting too much a forestborn, ends up eternally bind to the Forest, and one of its creature.

Three years later, Rachelle, still human but with superhuman physical skills, is one of the bloodbound who fights for the realm against the Forest, until she is assigned to be the bodyguard of Armand, the king’s son, and the only human who survived the meeting with a forestborn without being bloodbound.

Rachelle has also the intention to carry on a personal project, to recover the two magical swords that once defeated the Forest, at least following the ancient stories.

Crimson Bound is a page turner, where the story of Rachelle alternates with the story of the sword. Personally I think it’s inferior to Cruel Beauty, and less engaging. Rachelle is an active character, but in most of the events she is quite passive, and short-sighted for alliances and factions. Overall the plot is quite linear (with some inconsistencies in my opinion), and sometimes quite foreseeable.

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Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge ★★★☆☆

Beauty by Robin McKinley

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Altro retelling sul tema La Bella e la Bestia, qui, più che in Cruel Beauty o nell’orrendo Beastly, mi sono ritrovata nella versione Disney con un’ambientazione in un non ben noto periodo di nobili e carrozze, il castello perso nella foresta e piatti, tazzine e candelieri che muovono senza apparente intervento umano.

Beauty è la terza di tre sorelle – Hope (speranza) e Grace (grazia) – ma il suo vero nome è Honour (onore), il soprannome le deriva da un commento fatto da bambina: in realtà le due sorelle sono ben più belle di lei che invece è più colta e dedita alla lettura.

L’incontro con la Bestia segue il copione classico: il padre trova il castello ed il suo proprietario e gli promette una delle tre figlie in cambio dell’aiuto ricevuto; da qui in poi possiamo tranquillamente figurarci l’immaginario Disney senza poi sbagliare di molto.

Tutto ciò considerato Beauty è uno dei retelling più noiosi della ben nota storia, anche perchè non presenta particolari variazioni nella trama, nell’ambientazione o nell’evoluzione del rapporto tra i due protagonisti (in questo senso molto meglio preferirgli Cruel Beauty).

Nonostante quella raccontata sia una storia che funziona sempre qui non l’ho trovata molto avvincente, anche a causa della protagonista, estremamente piatta nelle sue emozioni e nel modo di narrarle: Beauty affronta tutto stoicamente da buona donna che si sacrifica per padre e sorelle; ha come controparte una Bestia estremamente cordiale che non eccede mai in attacchi d’ira, da cui l’istantanea amicizia.

Decisamente non è una versione di cui consiglierei la lettura.

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* Beauty by Robin McKinley ★★☆☆☆

*Ho letto questo libro in Inglese

Beauty by Robin McKinley

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Leggi questo articolo in Italiano

This is another retelling of The Beauty and the Beast, here, more than in Cruel Beauty or in the awful Beastly, I recalled the Disney version of the story, having Beauty a setting in an undefined time where nobles and carriages were common, the magic castle in the forest and cups, plates and candelabra moving without human intervention.

Beauty is the third of three sisters – Hope and Grace – and her true name is Honour, while her nickname was given when she was a child even if growing up her two sisters became more beautiful than her who found her interest in reading.

The meeting with the Beast follows the classical script: her father finds the castle and its owner and promises him one of his three daughters for his help; from then on we can switch to the Disney imaginary without being particularly wrong – or sorry.

All considered I have to say that this is one of the most boring retelling of this story, also because it does not provide plot or settings variations, or something new in the relation between the two characters (in this sense Cruel Beauty is way better).

The story of the Beauty and the Beast usually works perfectly well, but here I did not find it particularly engaging, in part for the main character, so flat in her emotions and in the way she communicates them: Beauty face everything stoically as a good girl who sacrifice herself for her sisters and her father; her counter part is a kind Beast who is always kind, hence the instant friendship.

Honestly I do not suggest to read it for there are other more particular or engaging.

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* Beauty by Robin McKinley ★★☆☆☆

*I read this book in English