Thursday, February 13, 2014

Young Adult Review: Plain Kate

Plain Kate by Erin Bow, September 1, 2010. 314 pages. Published by Arthur A. Levine Books. Source: library.
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 charms are so fine that some even call her "witch-blade" -- a dangerous nickname in a town where witches are hunted and burned in the square.
First Sentence:
A long time ago, in a market town by a looping river, there lived an orphan girl called Plain Kate. 

This book, it was dark and haunting tinged with sadness and joy; and just an incredible read that battered around my feelings. Truth: the last twenty pages practically had me in tears as I was reading downstairs (with my sisters all scattered around). That should tell you something because I don't nearly cry over just any old book.

Once I was finally pulled into the world within Plain Kate and the lives of the characters I did not want to put down this book. Why, because Erin Bow's writing and the richness of the world and story she created was so good, and by then I was emotionally invested, that to walkaway would be impossible. Seriously though, Ms. Bow's writing and the way she layered on the different aspects of the world and each characters' story was so well done that I just wanted to keep on reading.

While Plain Kate does break ones heart at times, what lies at the heart of the story is Kate finding the confidence in herself to move forward and live her life. Now, what made that so interesting for the story line is that Plain Kate was at her lowest, and had been for years, when she finally strikes out to avoid being burned as a witch because of her ability to carve so well. I really enjoyed seeing her slowly come around and see her worth.

Plain Kate just knocked my heart around, from Plain Kate's years of loneliness after the death of father, to her struggle to fit in with the Roamers, right up until the end. I cannot tell you this specifics of how Erin Bow managed to break my heart and the mend it in a matter of pages, but she did.
   Erin Bow's ability to capture the depths of the trauma and emotional strain that Plain Kate had to deal with was so well written; add in the world she created and you have one novel that just lingers on your mind (which are always the best ones).

Even though I really enjoyed Plain Kate it took me maybe fifty pages to truly get into the world and story of Kate's journey, but when I finally found that point in the book that hooked me, well, there was no chance I was going to set the book aside. Other than a slow start that left me wondering when the story would gain speed, thus gathering my attention, this was quite the interesting read.
   All in all, I only had the one thing I disliked about this one. Which is pretty good if you ask me.

I'd like to thank, Sandy, for suggesting I read Erin Bow's Plain Kate. Thank you so much for pointing me in the direction of this amazing book.

Final Verdict: Plain Kate- Love and loss, and dark powers combine in this sweeping tale of an orphan girl that will break your heart one moment and then leave you with a smile the next.

Plain Kate earns 4 out of 5 Griffins


  1. This is a book I've been meaning to read forever--so many people have raved about it and recommended it to me! It's good to hear that you loved it, too. Books that make you smile AND break your heart are rare indeed.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. I had no idea what Plain Kate was about going into it, but it turned out to be such a gem of a read. I'm very thankful that this one was suggest for me.

      It is true that books that both break your heart and make you smile are rare.


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