Plain Kate by Erin Bow

The town of Samilae is one where its superstitious town folk believe in curses and stories of witchcraft. Katerina Svetlana was nicknamed Plain Kate by the town baker, and the nickname stuck. She spends her days with her father learning how to carve wood and creating talismans for customers who want to ward off evil from their homes or even for good luck. But when a deadly illness sweeps the town, Kate, not only loses her father, but she loses her home. Her neighbors who have always thought she was a witch because she knew how to wield a knife are even more suspicious after the illness kills many. With only her cat Taggle for company, she sets off on her own, but when food is scarce, the weather is harsh and loneliness leaves her feeling bitter, she finds herself striking a bargain with a stranger that will change her life forever. She trades her shadow for her heart's one desire. But we all know, nothing is ever that simple.

I was fascinated by the beautiful storytelling I found in Plain Kate.

Russian folklore seems to be the base of this story - but Plain Kate's adventure is one that I found to be original, dark and utterly captivating. I truly liked Kate. She's a wonderful heroine - she makes mistakes, struggles with the choices she makes, yet is always brave and strong. But I must say, Plain Kate's cat and sidekick, Taggle, well he stole the show. Some of the best moments revolved around Taggle.

What great characters and stunning descriptions of the town and its residents as well as those that Plain Kate encounters along her journey. The writing was simple yet lyrical in nature. It is told in a way that makes it feel charming a quaint. This story has such fairytale feel to it. You feel as if the narrator is reading a story to you - one that, although at first glance feels like a coming-of-age story, ends up being so much more.

One more thing that I found unique, was that Plain Kate did not have a love interest. I enjoyed that she was not pining over a boy, or the very popular love triangle, nor were there any vampires or werewolves. She was just a girl trying to live her life as best she could. The story had its ups and downs but nothing where you felt it dragged. As for the ending, it was bittersweet and heart-breaking but at the same time, it was perfect.

No matter the age, if you love fairytales, fantasy and just good, old fashioned adventure, Plain Kate is the book for you.

This book was reviewed as part of a blog tour through Book it Forward ARC Tours and


Tales of Whimsy said...

No love just magic? I want!

Katie said...

Wow, I had not heard of this, but it sounds really good. Plus the character has a really awesome name :) Thanks for posting this.

Ryan said...

I keep hearing good things about this one. I'm going to have to check it out soon. Thanks for the review.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

This sounds like it has some originality to it. I can definitely do without a love triangle for once!

Anonymous said...

Finished and loved Plain Kate. Bow's writing is gorgeous, her characters indelible and her story loops like the river in the opening sentence-dark undercurrents but ulimately life giving.

Five stars, I think you will find it shortlisted for many awards in CA, US and UK.

Brava Erin, Kate and Taggle!

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