12/25/2010 ** I have no idea why I requested this book from the library. I must have seen it reference on some blog & thought it sounded interesting; besides, there's a talking cat - how could I resist!
I read two chapters over breakfast today (instead of washing dishes - no competition). I was definitely immersed in the world. There are Russian names; a feudal world, complete with guilds and guild masters; and a strange juxtaposition of both the use and fear of magic. I predict that I'll be finishing this book quickly, intent to see how the orphaned Kate copes with the accusations of being a witch.
12/26/2010 ** Well, I didn't read it in one day, but pretty close. I knew bad parts were coming when I had only about 40 pages left, so before I went to sleep last night I switched to FAIR GAME for awhile, saving the ending of PLAIN KATE for this morning.
I strongly recommend this book. The back-of-book blurbs talk about the "poetry, magic, humor,and sorrow" (Meg Rosoff) and how the "deceptively simple prose steals over you like an enchanted fog" (Elizabeth C. Bunce). Neither of the blurbs talk about the strong world building, compelling characterization, and complex plot (oh, and a talking cat!) The characters are connected in ways that are hinted at in skillful foreshadowing, leading to the resolution of the problem. Bow epitomizes the things I love about YA fantasy - characters and settings I care about while also providing a vehicle to consider issues in our own lives and world.
* At what point is the cost of vengeance higher than the unjust crime that prompted it?
* What is owed by the person who became an unwitting agent of evil?
* If your inaction caused evil to happen, what is your responsibility to right it? At what point does the cost become too much to bear?
I strongly recommend this one.