Reviewed by Coy M.

Erin Bow’s masterpiece, Plain Kate, takes place in a time when shadows are used to communicate with the dead, everyone believes in superstition and curses, and magic stalks people. It is into this world that Kate is born, and the one she is raised in.

Daughter of a wood-carver, Kate learned to carve wood with a knife long before she learned to talk or walk. Growing up, her skills of carving charms gave her the name of ‘witch-blade’. But everything changes for Plain Kate as her father dies, leaving her nothing but a simple drawer in the marketplace to live in. After spending months in the market, Kate desperately wishes to change her life, especially after the townspeople accuse her of being a witch. Enter Linay, a stranger who sees Kate’s misery and who gives her a chance to escape the town. He even grants her her heart’s desire…all in exchange for her shadow.

After meeting up with the Roamers and starting her life anew, Kate realizes that it’s not as easy living without a shadow as it seemed. Worst of all, a mysterious fog covers the countryside, seemingly following Kate, ruining crops and destroying people, striking fear in everyone. As a consequence, Kate realizes that Linay’s witchcraft and magic have darker results than she ever imagined, and she sets out in hopes of finding him and making him reverse his evil doings.

Plain Kate is a wonderful coming-of-age book about magic, heartbreak, bravery and sacrifice. While many would be fooled to believe otherwise, the book is very dark and haunting. Nonetheless, it is enjoyable in its poetry and minor humor; the readers will come to find that the protagonist Kate is anything but ‘Plain’.

Rating: 4.5/5

Coy M. is pursuing a degree in writing, which is a great passion of hers. She also enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Arthur A. Levine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.