Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Plain Kate

by Erin Bow

Dedication: "To the memory of my sister Wendy--artist, friend, and fierce good soul"

First paragraph: "A long time agao, in a market town by a looping river, there lived an orphan girl called Plain Kate."

Review: I don't really know where to start on this one. I liked it but I didn't love it. I was sucked in by the story and I couldn't put the book down from page one but there were times where I was still sort of bored. I've never experienced that before. Maybe I'm just feeling overly critical right now?

Anyway, Plain Kate grew up in a market town with her father, the master carver. He taught her everything she knows and she's certain she could carve before she could walk. Because of her innate ability with a knife, some people believe she's a witch carving spells and magic into her wood. When her father catches the witch-fever and passes away her world changes and everything she hoped she'd have in her life is thrown out the window. Her life continues to be turned upside down and a real witch is making it impossible for her to stay unnoticed. At the center of the town's gossip she's forced to flee, fearing for her life.

Well, her adventures are really quite remarkable. I have no idea how much time lapses from the beginning of the book to the end. I do know that she's not yet twenty when the book ends but that is all I know. I think this undistinguished time lapse is one of the things that turned me off. I am not a cat, and therefore time concerns me. (You'll understand that when you read the book).

Which brings me to another point. I like cats. They are cute and soft and fun to play with but I think I'm more of a dog person. I think I'd have connected more with this book if I was a cat person. I saw how well the author did portraying a cat. The cat really was a cat. He thought like a cat. Acted like a cat. Demanded he be cooed and preened like any cat I know would demand. Writing the cat was probably a lot of fun and I wish I could have connected more with it.

Speaking of things that kept me from connecting, there was a lot of death in the book. Unnecessary, unneeded death in my opinion. I think that's really the thing bugging me most right now. Maybe the author was trying to convey something with all the death but I thought it was over the top. There was a curse. There were witch hunts, hangings, and burnings. There was extreme superstition and the first response was always "kill first, ask questions later".

Speaking of death, I cried. A lot. Maybe I was having an extra emotional day today but even on a very unemotional day I think it still would have still been a tearjerker. Bow does a great job at breaking your heart.

Anyway, if you're looking for a quick summer read I'd still suggest this. Although, for such a seemingly light-hearted book it had a lot of death. So I may not suggest it for younger teens even though I felt like that was more who the writing was geared towards. The death in the book is not gruesome by any means, but it is extensive and there are a lot of witch hunts and witch burnings taking place throughout the book as well.

Click here for Erin Bow's website for Plain Kate.

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