Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Wood Angel by Erin Bow

(from Goodreads): Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver’s daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square. A mysterious fog ruins crops and spreads hunger and sickness. The townspeople blame Kate.

The stranger Linay will exchange her shadow for escape and her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can’t live shadowless forever — and that Linay’s anger and grief (like the bereaved author) can "level a city".


What I liked:

  • Kate. She is a wonderful character. Definitely flawed, and with heaps of misfortune, but she is persistent to survive, to learn to better herself and her life. I loved her passion for carving, which is not a simple occupation for her, but a vocation, a gift she uses to serve and help other people.
  • The way magic is explained and treated: a mix of traditional and unique concepts, especially the notion of magic being an exchange of gifts.
  • The way the rusalka legend is presented.
  • Taggle. I don't know how to describe him without spoiling anything. He is one of the best cats I have ever read about. Fierce, clever, loyal little thing. I loved him.

What I didn't like:

  • Stereotypical portrayal (especially of the Roma people) in spots.
  • Indecisiveness whether to make it a YA or adult (meaning as for older readers) novel:
    Let me explain. The main character is a 14-year-old girl and on the first impression this quite a short novel tells a story of adventure, magic and fantasy, but on the other hand the novel deals with topics that may be too mature for many a young adult, such as cruelty and neglect to both animals and people/children; poverty; discrimination against women, the poor, and the Roma people; witch-hunting; and moral aspects of using (black) magic. At times Bow uses some clich├ęs in regard to these topics, although I generally liked the way they were dealt with.

Wood Angel managed to keep my attention and I read it quite fast, considering my recent reading manner, so this is a big compliment to the book. It made me frown and laugh a few times, and cry in the end, all of which is also a compliment. Generally, I enjoyed Wood Angel. It is a dark story, but a suspenseful and intriguing one..

RECOMMENDATION: I would recommend Wood Angel to mature teens and older due to the topics it deals with. If you like a darker fantasy and adventure, I think you might enjoy Wood Angel.

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