From School Library Journal
Gr 4-8–When Kate's wood-carver father dies, she is left to support herself with her woodworking talent while living in her father's former market stall with a cat named Taggle. When Linay, a mysterious and magical stranger, comes to town and buys Kate's shadow, he gives her the money she needs to escape her village home, where people are blaming her for the hard times that have fallen on them. It is rumored that her talent comes from magic, but Kate's journey leads to unexpected consequences and danger for her and the Roamer family whom she joins. It's up to Kate; her new friend, Drina; and Taggle to defeat Linay with their own magic, as they come to discover the truth about his past and his desire for revenge. Kate's journey involves physical, mental, and magical growth, presenting a character who truly matures and changes over the course of her story, and the bittersweet conclusion reflects honest choices and Kate's newfound strength. Supporting characters, from villagers to the tormented Linay, are presented realistically and move the story forward smoothly. Bow's first novel shows a solid control of story and characters, and the careful and evocative writing reflects her work as a published poet.Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
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Young Kate is plain as a stick but a gifted wood carver. Her father had warned her that foolish people might think that she guides her knife with magic, and after he dies of fever, Kate becomes the target of suspicion and fear. As a plague worsens, Kate realizes that she must flee her village, and she reluctantly makes an odd bargain with a stranger: in exchange for her shadow, the stranger will provide essential supplies and grant a single wish. Soon Plain Kate is entangled in an elaborate noose of magic and revenge. In her debut novel, poet Bow writes with an absorbing cadence, creating evocative images that trigger the senses and pierce the heart. With familiar folktale elements, she examines the dark corners of human fear and creates intriguing, well-drawn characters, including Taggle, Kate’s talking cat, who adds a welcome lightness. The taut, bleak tale builds to a climax that unfortunately falters, solving a central dilemma with magical convenience. Still, with this debut, Bow establishes herself as a novelist to watch. Grades 7-12. --Lynn Rutan