“Plain Kate” by Erin Bow

Another review I wrote a few months ago but never got around to posting. It’s shorter than usual because it was meant to help me catch up with all the books I’d read… that didn’t work out.

plain-kate-official-coverPlain Kate was marketed as a children/YA book, and judging by the cover, I thought it would be a fun and light coming-of-age type book. Well, it was very good and it’s a coming-of-age book of sorts, but it’s quite dark and not exactly “fun”. I’m not sure I’d market it for kids.

Plain Kate lives and works with her father, a woodcarver. However, her life is dramatically altered when her father dies of the plague. Not only does she have nowhere to go, but there are rumours spreading that she is a witch. Friendless and alone, she tries to find a home among the gypsies (who are themselves shunned), but her vulnerability has caught the eye of a magician with a dark purpose.

The main story is rather melancholy, but the writing is intensely evocative and Bow takes you on quite a journey through a very simple tale. The characters are lovely, especially Taggle the talking cat – one of my favourite characters of all time. The ending is poignant on multiple levels.

Telling you any more would spoil the book, so I’ll just say that it’s highly recommended!

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