Info: Scholastic, copyright 2010, 314 pages
Audiobook Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A young girl thought to be plain finds she's quite extraordinary inside and out.
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.
For a book with such a terrible cover, within the covers is a pretty excellent fantasy story. There are no love connections. There is a talking cat. And there are a lot of words that I don't know how to spell (an audiobook pet peeve...I like to know how things are spelled and audiobooks do not lend themselves to this habit :) Despite all of this, I really enjoyed Erin Bow's debut.
Plain Kate is a strong, independent, courageous female heroine who has been dealt a rather nasty lot in life but never gives in to despair. The setting is dark, bleak, and frustrating. You get the feeling of the middle ages, one of my favorite time periods to explore, and yet the superstition makes the world unique. Then there's the villain. The "villain" is sympathetic and terrible all at the same time.
All of these elements come together for a heart wrenching tale of family and shadows. If you're in the mood for an audiobook, Cassandra Campbell does an excellent job bringing the world to life. She's one of my favorite readers, so at first I thought I was just enjoying her delivery and not the story. But then I got to know Kate and her talking cat Taggle, and I fell in love with the story too.