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Book Review: Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

I was afraid to read this book because of the heavy themes introduced even just in the synopses I read on Goodreads and Amazon, but I’m glad I got over it (on the recommendation of a friend) and decided to check it out from the library. I was drawn right away into the fairy tale quality of the writing, which kind of reminded me of Neil Gaiman.

The story is about a young girl named Kate, the daughter of a carver who dies from a sickness that falls over her town. Left to fend for herself, Kate is accused of being a witch because of her odd-colored eyes and uncanny skills with her carving knife. But when she encounters a real witch, she makes a bargain she soon learns was more deadly than she realized.

Erin Bow is a masterful writer and her rich, crisp prose was a delight to read. From the beginning, the terrible tragedy of Kate’s father’s death was heart-wrenching, but was so masterfully balanced by Kate befriending a ridiculously cute cat (who as part of the bargain is given the ability to talk! awesome!). However, there was a certain…predictability that didn’t quite sit right with me. There were puzzles that Kate should’ve figured out from the beginning, things she should’ve known were going to happen from the get go, but characters and the writing were so beautiful (and yes, there were plenty of things I never saw coming) that I almost forgave all of that. The more difficult problem for me was the pacing. I found myself skimming a bit toward the end of the book. But the ending was well worth continuing and the author handled strong emotions so well that I would still highly recommend this book to anyone.

I can’t wait to read whatever Erin Bow comes up with next.

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