by Erin Bow
New York : Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010.
Katerina was always known as Plain Kate, ever since her father introduced her, as a baby, to the butcher. She has eyes of different color, and her features are rather plain. Her father teaches her to carve, and carve well, but the townspeople are suspicious of her abilities. Then her father dies in a plague that the people blame on witches. Alone and poor, Plain Kate is again under suspicion when a sleeping sickness moves through the towns. A real witch offers to give Kate the desire of her heart if she gives him her shadow. Only after she makes this bargain does she begin to learn the cost.
This debut offering has an interesting premise and wonderful writing. I enjoyed the descriptions, which used a few well-chosen words to paint a picture in my mind leaving me to fill in the details. Kate and her cat, Tangle, are delightful characters, though I wished more was made of the secondary characters, like Drina, Behret, and Linay. I wanted to know them better than I did, but instead felt like I was never quite sure what they were like, what they would do or choose. Tangle, on the other hand, was great. The very fact that he is a cat is never forgotten, and he made me laugh several times. I will definitely be looking for more by this author.