Review Blog

Jun 30 2011

Wood angel by Erin Bow

cover image

Chicken House, 2011. ISBN 9781906427603.
(Age 13+) Recommended. I picked up this book because of its beautiful cover, thinking that it probably was a fantasy about fairies, and when it was recommended by Meg Rosoff on the cover, I knew that I probably was in for a treat. Well it certainly is a treat, but it's not about fairies. Plain Kate is a woodcarver. Left alone on the death of her father, she lives in a bottom drawer of his market outlet, with only the cat Taggle for company. She carves little charms that are supposed to bring luck, and this brings her to the attention of the villagers, who think she could be a witch. When times get hard, she becomes scared for her life and turns to Linay, a white haired stranger, who promises her safety and companionship in exchange for her shadow. How will she be able to function and what does this mean for the safety of the world?
This is a beautifully plotted story with Plain Kate at the heart of its appeal. She is a feisty girl whose actions and dilemmas held me captive for the whole of the book which I devoured in one sitting. I was awed at her courage in leaving her village and taking up with the Roamers and astounded at the way that she was able to deal with Linay, who had gone mad over the death of his twin sister at the hands of the witch-hunters. She didn't fit in with her village or with the Roamers, but in typical, stoic fashion, made the best of her opportunities, aided by the fabulous talking cat, Taggle, who is one of the best characters that I have come across in my recent readings. His cheeky asides always brought a grin to my face and relieved the darkness of the circumstances facing Kate.
It was also a thought-provoking story, examining the alienation of people who were thought to be different. The death of his sister so haunts Linay that his desire for revenge grows enormously. He is a very frightening character and his magic is quite sinister. Even the Roamers have cast him out.
Erin Bow has twined magic and revenge into a wonderful story that reeks of atmosphere. The loss and sorrow that Kate faces joins together with hope and the steadfastness of friends and the conclusion is wonderful.
This is a book that will remain with me for a long time. I intend to seek out other novels by this fabulous author.
Pat Pledger

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