Friday, 18 May 2012

Wood Angel

YA Novel by Erin Bow
Originally published as Plain Kate

As Emily May (on Goodreads) wrote in her review, the cover of this novel really does not give you a good idea of what the book is like. It seems to have been interpreted from reading the title that the girl is an angel of the forest, hence the glitter and white robes. The title Wood Angel actually refers to the main character, Plain Kate, being a wood carver. In the age in which she lives (Russia of the past) wood carvers are regarded as a little dangerous, maybe possessing dark magic powers.

When she was a girl, Kate's father taught her his wood carving skill. She was so talented, it was thought she would become a master at the art. Then her father died, and the town started to turn against her. Her skill with wood and odd coloured eyes made them wary. When a stranger came to town, he offered her a dangerous bargain, which she had no choice to accept.

Kate goes out into the world, but pain and betrayal seem to follow her everywhere she goes. She is only a girl, but can she find a way to right wrongs, and to stop the terrible thing the stranger is doing?

This book is a harrowing read. So many bad things kept happening, and Kate kept having to find a way to somehow scrape through and survive, while things just got worse and worse around her. Still, if you can get through all that, it is an amazing story and well worth reading. I am amazed and inspired by Kate's strength and resourcefulness. It will all work out eventually.

The dark mood is lightened somewhat by Kate's companion, Taggle, a talking cat. Taggle is adorable and humourous, but not too cutesy. He has been well written, as the things he says are very catlike and exactly what I would imagine a cat saying if it could talk.

This is another story that mentions the cost of magic which always interests me. I like the idea that for there to be balance, everything must be a trade.

I also liked the inclusion and rewriting of elements of Russian myths, such as that of the Rusalka.

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