Thursday, 26 August 2010

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Plain Kate
Erin Bow
[September 1, 2010]

The drizzle had broken into patches as they walked. As Drina scooped up the pale sand, Kate found herself standing in the smudge of shadow cast by the deadfall. She had never before noticed the way shadows gave things weight, made them look heavy and real and connected to the ground. Without hers...

She edged into the light.

Her shadow looked strange and thinned. It seemed not cast against the ground, but floating above it, like a fog. What Linay had said was true: No one would notice this, at first. It was just an uneasy little change, like the half-felt movement of a boat that slowly induces a great sickness.

Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square.
For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he’ll give Kate the means to escape the angry town, and what’s more, he’ll grant her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

Plain Kate is magical, enchanting, and a fairy tale all of it's own.

The novel has a very unique voice that took me a while to get into, but after a two week break to read books already published, I was able to slip back in with ease. When I restarted, I was worried I'd have an adjusting period again and was pleasantly surprised how quickly the voice became familiar to me.

Taggle was my favorite character. He was amusing and arrogant, reminding me of Grimalkin from The Iron King and the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. He sounded like you'd imagine a cat to sound, with lines like

"Look, I'm still damp. Fuss over me."

The ending was full of action and had me teary-eyed at the same time. Fast paced and intense, I was hooked on it.

The only thing I dislike was how the beginning was kind of slow and it did take time to adjust to the voice.

But overall, this was a fabulous debut that met my expectations and I'll be looking for more from Erin Bow, for sure!



  1. I absolutely love that quote! Haha this sounds brilliant...great review!

  2. Congratulations! You have won the One Lovely Blog Award from me :)

    Go here to pick it up

  3. Great review, Julie. Plain Kate is high on my wishlist, I really want to read it :)

  4. Plain Kate is great! I loved it. I understand that Erin Bow is a poet and it shows. The descriptions are moody, scary and bring the story to life. The major characters Kate, Taggle and even the villian Linay are so real. The ending is very satisfying and ties the whole magical world together.

    This is a five star book!



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