Monday, 7 March 2011
Review: Wood Angel by Erin Bow
Title: Wood Angel
Author: Erin Bow
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: 7 Mar 2011
Synopsis: From Amazon
Plain Kate lives in a time afraid of magic. She has a gift for carving 'lucky' wooden-charms. Known as Witch-Blade, her unusual gift attracts dangerous attention in a place where witches are burned. When her village falls on bad times, suspicion falls on Kate. Scared for her life, she seeks the help of a mysterious stranger. In exchange for her shadow, the stranger will assist her, but Kate becomes part of a terrifying plan, darker than she ever dreamed.
The narrative has a fairytale feel right from the beginning. I don't mean the Disney fairy-tales either, I mean the dark, dangerous fairy-tales akin to the Brothers Grimm. The prose almost has a poetic, lyrical feel to it.
Visually alluring with emotion sparking descriptions thoroughly sensory/tactile which draw you right into the heart of the events without the slightest protest from your imagination. I usually say immersion but I think on this occasion it was more like total submersion into Kate's world.
Disaster and tragedy seem to follow Kate through her young live, yet her ability to endure and survive was awe inspiring. Her inner strength was enviable, you can understand why she unwittingly sold her shadow. Yet never once did she deter from stopping the nefarious consequences. The use of the third person narrative allows insight into the actions and thoughts of the other characters while maintaining the focus on Kate.
I cannot go through the review without mentioning Taggle, Kate's cat, who through the exchange of the shadow is able to speak. How totally awesome is that - a talking cat. Taggle's narrative voice is everything I imagine a cat would sound like - regal, haughty, majestic. An image of the Cheshire Cat kept popping into my head as I was reading. Taggle has serious Cat-attitude LOL.
The use of unusual words and different dialects emphasises the differences between people in different areas. Highlighting the intolerance that still applies today. How easy different people are blamed for events that are 'out of our hands' so to speak. A glossary at the back of the book is very useful in fully understanding the meaning behind the words used. The Roamers conjured images of the old Romany Gypsies with their painted wooden wagons (nothing like the gypsies that are seen on TV today).
All the plot threads come together beautifully to provide a well rounded conclusion. I would say this book is a modern dark fairytale for the more mature Middle Grader. My 10 year old would love it but my 8 year old would probably have nightmares.