Review: Plain Kate by Erin Bow

22 Sep

Publisher: Scholastic Canada
Release year: 2010
Genre: MG/YA fantasy, fairytale
One sentence summary: A cat, a curse and a wonderful fairytale.
Rating:5 out of 5
Review copy from publisher

Plain Kate lives in a world of magic and curses, where cats can talk and shadows can bring back the dead. As the wood-carver’s daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans seem to reveal hidden truths about their owners. But she and her village have fallen on hard times: Kate’s father dies, crops fail, and a strange sickness is spreading across the countryside. The village is looking for someone to blame, and for her skill with a knife, Kate is accused of witchcraft. Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: If Kate gives him her shadow, he’ll grant her heart’s wish, and he’ll also find a way for her to escape the angry townspeople. Kate reluctantly agrees, not realizing that she’s given a powerful tool to a man driven mad with grief. Aided by new friends and armed with the carving knife that has never failed to show her the truth, Kate must stop Linay in his terrible plan of revenge and become the heroine she knows is within her.

From Scholastic Canada website.

I don’t do straight fantasy. EVER. I’ve tried to read various high fantasy books shoved at me lovingly by the hubs, but I haven’t managed to get past the first chapter or so. Different lands, different places, I just can’t get into them. My dislike of fantasy started young: I was never a huge fan of fairytales. I remember reading them but not really being impressed. And I was so not a Disney kid. So you would think that I wouldn’t like Erin Bow’s Plain Kate, a fantasy novel steeped in fairytale.

But – let the gushing commence – Plain Kate was a wonderful, amazing, heartwarming tale. And it will definitely end up on my best of for the year.  I whipped through it and at one point near the end when the hubs came in to talk to me, I waved the book in his face and glared. He backed out of the room. Smart man.

It’s hard for me to actually put into words why I loved this book so much, but I’m gonna try my hardest to be at least a bit coherent.

For me, this book is about a feeling. It might sound dorky, but I almost felt like this book was a friend, giving me a big hug. It’s not always a happy book, and there are hard, sad events throughout. But it didn’t depress me. Sure there were times I felt sad (I dare you to read Plain Kate and not cry) but mostly I felt for Kate and what she was going through. I also connected with her simply wanting a place where she fits in, something I think we all crave.

Ok, Taggle. I loved him so, so much. I think he’s one of my favorite characters of forever. He was such an amazingly well written character. It’s hard to explain, but she captured the personality of a cat perfectly. Oh, did I forget to mention Taggle is a cat? He is. He’s the most self-absorbed, awesome cat EVER.

The whole book was beautifully written, and so vivid that I could almost smell the wood shavings as Plain Kate carved. Erin’s writing pulled me into Plain Kate’s world from the get-go and it was definitely a world I didn’t want to leave.

There were a lot of happy sighs as I read Plain Kate. I just kept thinking, “Thank God I’m getting a chance to read this book.” And when I finished I immediately told everyone I know to go buy it and read it.

This is probably going to sound cheesy and cause a few eye-rolls, but for me this book was a gift. Not only was it an amazing story I know I’ll come back to again and again, but it’s also made me curious about fantasy and fairytales. Very cool.

As for who I think will enjoy Plain Kate, that’s easy. Everyone.

Don’t believe me? Enter to win a copy and see for yourself.

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5 Responses to “Review: Plain Kate by Erin Bow”

  1. amymckie September 22, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    Wow! Yep, I’ll definitely have to read this one. I accept your dare 😉

  2. Amanda September 22, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    I agree, it was definitely a wonderful book!

  3. Cat @ Beyond Books September 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    I still can’t write my review. When I start to think about the book, I cry. I keep telling my husband the book was stupid and I loved it so much. And I tell him the story – AND I CRY! I need time to get over the wonder that is PLAIN KATE. I have to write my review. This book is just simple, old school folk tale and it was like reading a painting.

    Stupid book. I hate the book.

    I LOVE THE BOOK! *sobs*

    • lavenderlines September 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

      I was like that, too. After I finished I went and super hugged all the cats in the house. The hubs thought I’d lost it.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. My fave reads of 2010 « Lavender Lines - January 2, 2011

    […] Plain Kate by Erin Bow – This MG/YA book made me laugh, cry, laugh then cry again. I know so many people that, like me, were an emotional mess when they finished this book. The story was beautiful and I think Taggle the cat was one of my favorite characters of the year. […]

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