Drawing inspiration from Beauty and the Beast, the beast in Uprooted is a powerful magician, the heroine a super-powerful witch in her own right, and they are not only love interests, but equals in many ways! Agnieszka is a fantastically complex character who submits to no one and does her share of traditionally male assigned fairy-tale rescuing. Add in a strong sisterly friendship that carries through the narrative, an awesome female sword-forging POC, physicality that is consensual (and the stopping of it when it isn’t), and a villain who is magical, female, and entirely creepy, yet also a complicated character and you’ll get the feminist fantasy I didn’t know I was looking for!
This is a beyond awesome feminist fantasy for young people (and adult people too). It bears little resemblance to the awful film sharing its name.
Ella quite literally has to be obedient to anyone who asks, a ‘gift’ from her fairy godmother (Who, like many people in patriarchal society, thinks that obedience in young women is somehow a virtue). So she goes on a journey to get her curse lifted, so she can be her own girl. Lots of emphasis on her friendships, growth, and in the end, she gets to save herself without depending on someone else to do it for her.
Hines’ brilliant reimagining of the classic fairy tale characters brings Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty into a whole new feminist light.
Instead of the prince having to save the princess, it’s the other way round! We join Princess Danielle not long after the famous Cinderella courtship, as Prince Armand is kidnapped by Danielle’s jealous stepsisters. Snow is a brilliant sorceress and Talia (Sleeping Beauty) is an assassin who aid her in the quest to rescue the prince. Each of the three women have a less than fairy tale upbringing, with Talia’s background especially gritty and steeped in betrayal and rape (a hefty, but well handled theme for a YA book).
Each woman has abilities that compliment the other, and a major theme of the book is about them learning to work as a team, teach each other new skills, and value friendship. The book is also not hung up on romance, leaving the women to explore many different facets of female relationships without the standard trope of them fighting over a man!
Followed by three equally brilliant sequels, a YA series must.