Wood Angel, originally Plain Kate, reads very much like a fairytale, though it is definitely not written for a younger audience. After her father's wake, Kate finds herself living in the bottom drawer of a cupboard in her market stall. Imagine her surprise when she finds three newborn kittens there, abandoned by their mother. After nursing them back to health and giving them a strong dose of TLC, two wander off to pursue fun adventures with only one, a tomcat named Taggle, remaining. While selling her carvings, a flute-playing boy opens up a stall nearby, promising charms that will grant her wishes. Fake as they may be, his true powers are not.
With a carving talent such as hers, Plain Kate is constantly accused of witchery. When she is driven out of town, she gives up her shadow to the boy, Linay, in exchange for some supplies to send her on her way. She is accompanied by Taggles, setting off to travel with the Roamers. The best part of this novel is the relationship Kate has with her cat. Linay grants Taggles the ability to speak, so the witty dialogue and adorable cuddling will have you grinning like a fool. Taggles is fiercely protective of his Kate and is not afraid show it! At times he's friendly, at times he's needy, and sometimes he's downright mean. We've got to love those bipolar pets, right? ;)
Something is killing people in their sleep, and nothing can be done to stop it. When Kate discovers that Linay is going to use her shadow for evil, she must uncover his ulterior motives and stop him in time before a whole village is massacred. Erin Bow's writing is poetic and the words simply flow off the page, whether magical or sinister. There's an eerie sense of calm, even in the most frightening moments, and the occasional episodes of graphic violence really have that shock-and-cringe factor.
Wood Angel is mainly focused on Kate's adventures to survive on her own and to stop Linay from carrying out his dark plan. I would have liked to see more character development, in her and the other characters, but overall this was an enjoyable book to pass the time. The final chapters of the novel are exciting and are bound to pull you in if it didn't already. Deaths, rebirths, murders and magic - your jaw will most definitely drop at least once.
Have you read this? What did you think? Which title do you prefer - Wood Angel or Plain Kate?