Title: Wood Angel (also published as Plain Kate)
Author: Erin Bow
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published: 7th March (Chicken House)
Plain Kate lives in a time afraid of magic.
She has a gift for carving ‘lucky’ wooden-charms. Known as Witch-Blade, her unusual gift attracts dangerous attention in a place where witches are burned. When her village falls on bad times, suspicion falls on Kate. Scared for her life, she seeks the help of a mysterious stranger.
In exchange for her shadow, the stranger will assist her, but Kate becomes part of a terrifying plan, darker than she ever dreamed.
First published in the USA as Plain Kate, this is the heartfelt story of an orphan ‘witch-child’ and her cat, caught in a time afraid of magic.
Plain Kate is an odd child. She has different colour eyes and her skill with a carving knife are unusual for a girl of her age. In a time when magic is feared, any peculiarities in a person can be dangerous but it's not until her father dies of 'witch fever', and she has no one to protect her, that the town starts to turn against her. Then a strange man, Linay, arrives in town and even more odd things start to happen - the blame seeming to fall on Kate. Deciding to escape before she can be persecuted. Trading her shadow with Linay in return for some supplies and her 'deepest wish', which turns out that she just doesn't want to be alone, Kate acquires a talking cat, Taggle, and the two of them head out of town with the Roamers. Eventually though, Kate realises that she needs her shadow if she's going to survive and must get it back from Linay.
Wood Angel is a very unique story and there's something very individual about the style of the writing. It's very atmospheric and magical.The story is very much about how Kate struggles to stay alive. Thankfully she's a fighter but it's not an easy ride for her. Taggle was my all out favourite character in the book providing companionship and advice to Kate and a somewhat light-hearted comical relief for the reader.
A great story with brilliant writing and a feisty if slightly downtrodden protagonist.