Plain Kate by Erin Bow
Being different can be deadly in Plain Kate’s village, where people suspected of having magical abilities are burned at the stake. Kate’s talent for wood carving puts her at risk because her wooden creations are so realistic they could almost come to life. When her father dies, Kate becomes an orphan trying to find her way in a hostile world. She is barely scraping by when an albino stranger comes to her town with a haunting song and a dark plan for Plain Kate. She is driven to make a deal with him: trade her shadow for one wish and safe passage out of a village that thinks she is a witch. Armed with a talking cat and a shadow that is slowly slipping away from her, Plain Kate sets out on a journey to find a place where she belongs.
This is Erin Bow’s first novel for young adults, but she has written several poetry books for adults and her beautiful writing flows like poetry. She has a wonderful ability to capture a ton of emotion in one or two sentences. Plain Kate is a heavy novel that deftly tackles feelings of loneliness and grief. It’s not all dark though, and Kate’s strength and hope shine through even the worst situations.
All of the characters are fleshed out and I could understand their actions, even when they frustrated me. My favorite was Taggle the talking cat, since his hilarious and haughty antics kept me smiling. I really enjoyed Plain Kate and would definitely recommend it!