Book review | Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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rating-5-stars

Love, love, love this book! It took me under two days to finish it and I wanted to read it again at once. Thankfully I could control myself and wrote this book review instead. I have not been able to stop talking about this story and I am thrilled to share it with you.

A dark forest, a high tower, tons of magic and a young heroine taken prisoner by a mysterious wizard. Isn’t that just awesome and very much like a fairy tale? Although this story contains some elements of familiar fairy tales, such as Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel, it is incredibly fresh and exciting.

I don’t want to spoil anything by giving you some kind of summary, so here is a quote from Uprooted that convinced me to read the book:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. […] He takes a girl to his tower, and ten years later he lets her go, but by then she’s someone different” (3).

Where other writers might have devoted entire chapters on what readers most likely consider to be major events in the novel, Naomi Novik barely spends a paragraph on; it works though. Uprooted is fast paced and written in such a way that you can almost feel the magic. Novik’s storytelling makes it very easy to imagine a world where people battle a corrupted wood and find magic in everyday life. This dark wood does not only imprison characters in the story, it totally captures me. This book goes on my favourites-shelf without a doubt and I would recommend it to everyone who loves a magical story.

Nice detail: the metal ornament in the photograph was once the headboard of a four-poster bed my dad made and now decorates my parents’ garden as a frame for blossoming climbers. In the centre of the frame is a heart with my parents initials. A recycled happily-ever-after for their symbol of love. Too corny? Lol. Go and find out if Naomi Novik’s Uprooted is a happily-ever-after for you.

Want to know more about Naomi Novik? Check out her website: www.naominovik.com

Novik, Naomi. Uprooted. New York: Del Rey, (2015) 2016.

Book review | Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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rating-4-stars

A few weeks ago I wandered around in The American Book Center, my favourite English bookstore in Amsterdam. I quickly found myself drawn to the horror section. Though I am a bit of a scaredy-cat, spooky stories always intrigue me. On that day, one book in particular caught my eye. The strange photos on the dust jacket, the linen cover with gold writing, the old photographs and the decorated pages… I just could not resist picking up a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It felt like browsing through an old journal and I could barely wait finding a cosy nook to start reading.

 So what is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children about? Sixteen-year-old Jacob grew up with his grandpa’s unusual photographs and tall tales about children with special abilities. After his grandfather’s tragic death, he soon finds himself on a remote island off the coast of Wales. Here Jacob discovers an abandoned orphanage, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and he begins to doubt if his grandfather’s stories were only stories.

 Expecting it to be a ghost story, I obviously did not dare to read it after dark. However after the first creepy chapters, the book swept me up in an exciting story without any real ghosts, I promise. The pictures in the book give the story a strange sense of reality. It also reminds me that all pictures come with a story that, peculiar or not, are often still pretty wonderful. In the photograph above, I included some pictures of my family’s stories. For instance, the horse once saved my then three-year-old father by not wanting its favourite snack. My grandfather found it strange, looked at the ditch behind him and saw that his son was no longer standing there. My grandfather was just in time to fish my father out of the water. Isn’t that one peculiar horse?

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the first book of a trilogy. I have read them all and I loved every minute spent in this strange, gothic fantasy. I would like to point out it is a Young Adult book. Since I found it in the horror section, I did not realise it until I was already fascinated by the pictures, plot and characters. I do not mind a good YA book once in a while and these books were definitely worth my time.

For more information about these books, the author and photography visit Ransom Riggs’ website: www.ransomriggs.com

Riggs, Ransom. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2011.