Thursday, 2 June 2011

Wood Angel By Erin Bow

Kate lives in a time afraid of magic. Alone in the world with only her cat Taggle for company, she makes 'lucky' charms to sell, although her unusual gift marks her out in a place where witches are still burned.
When Kate's village falls on bad times, she's accused of practising dark magic. Scared for life, she turns to a stranger. But he has a plan more dangerous than she could ever have dreamed. It's up to Kate to carve good out of evil.
The world Plain Kate lives in is tough. Not only does she have to put up with the constant threat of being chased by the locals for the crime of being a witch and deal with being tricked into giving up her shadow by a stranger which makes her look even more suspect she has to do it all on her own. Until her father died from the 'witch's fever' she had a relatively safe life following in her fathers footsteps by carving wood, a skill Kate is highly gifted at. So gifted that some people don't believe it's natural. So when her father is no longer there to protect her she has to try and make it on her own by selling her wooden charms at the market.
Kate is definitely a survivor, she is faced with so many hardships but never gives up. She has her vulnerabilities, her main one being loneliness, but you get the impression that she will cope anyway. I did feel sorry for her through most of the story because it felt like she would never get a break and was destined to live out such a hard life. I was so glad when she finally got a friend in the form of her cat, Taggle. I absolutely loved Taggle and wish I had a cat as brave and funny as him. He likes to put up this nonchalant exterior but you can tell that he really cares deeply for Kate.
I also really like the world of the Roamers that Kate ends up joining for a spell. The Roamers are like gypsies that move from one market to another selling and bartering their horses and other trinkets. One roamer Kate befriends is Drina, a fun and kooky girl that is determined to help Kate find her shadow who I really liked. There was also the baddie,Linay, the stranger that had stolen Kate's shadow. In the end I think we were supposed to understand why he did some of the horrible things he thought he had to do, but for me I never did. I suppose I could understand why his anger marred his judgement but I never felt pity for him like I think I was supposed to.
I really did enjoy following Kate on her journey and exploring the world she lives in. At times it felt like it was a constant battle for Kate to get people to realise that she is not a witch and I did feel myself getting exasperated at some of the characters ignorance and cowardice sometimes. In parts it was quite a dark read especially when it came to the menace of certain characters and their resulting actions but this is what gave the story depth and made you feel the threat that so much as a pointed finger and the slightest whisper of witch can bring about. This story definitely has the feel of some of the darker original fairy tales mixed with Russian folklore. Whilst it does feel like it is predominately written for older children I believe it will still hold the interest of adults and be able to capture their imagination just as much.
Random Passage: Plain Kate was thinking of witches. How in bad times people were more eager to buy her objarka, but more inclined to take a step back, to crook their fingers at her when they thought she wasn't looking, or when they were sure she was. How they wanted the witchcraft to protect them, but how they looked too for a witch to blame. It didn't matter that there was no magic in her blade, people saw it in there. They saw witchcraft in her skill, witch marks in her mismatched eyes, her bad luck, her long shadow.


mummazappa said...

This sounds great, a combination of fantasy and historical fiction?

The Library Owl said...

It didn't immediately feel like historical fiction to me but now you mention it I guess it kind of is :)

Clover said...

This is one of my favourite books of the year so far!

The Library Owl said...

Yay! I'm glad you loved it so much :)

ComaCalm said...

I like your review! The idea behind Linay's actions is to show how much grief can swallow you whole and make you become something evil, twisted, like Linay. I never hated him at any point throughout the book because I could sympathise with him.

ComaCalm's Corner

karen marsters said...

I was completely enthralled by this book. Stunning language and so evocative. The real world fell away, just outstanding. BRAVO