Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Plain Kate” as Want to Read:
Plain Kate
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Plain Kate

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  3,900 ratings  ·  777 reviews
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 rui ...more
Kindle Edition, 322 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Arthur A. Levine Books (first published September 1st 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Plain Kate, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Susan A. I believe this book is definitely worth the time and energy it takes to read it! The world the author has created feels so genuine and you really get…moreI believe this book is definitely worth the time and energy it takes to read it! The world the author has created feels so genuine and you really get the chance to fall in love with the characters! In my personal opinion, I think you should give the book another try. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Emily May

Oh, rip my heart out, why don't you? This is such a horrifying and sad book that again makes me ask the question: just what on earth is going on in the UK publishing world??? This book was released in the US as Plain Kate with a cover that features the protagonist walking along a rooftop with her cat. Though it doesn't exactly gear you up for some of the horrors this story contains, at least it doesn't look like a pretty, twinkly version of Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. What is up with that c
I cannot believe this is Erin Bow's first novel. In the acknowledgments she mentions that she worked on this book for six years--it shows. From the first page, the author drops you into the story and there honestly was no drag throughout the entire book. We are introduced to Kate and her father, both woodcarvers who live in Similae. The surrounding communities have been plagued with death, torrential rains, and crop damage and the people of Kate's town, as well as other towns, are on the lookout ...more
Mar 14, 2011 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of dark fairy tales with very young protgonists
The highest praise I can give a book is to favorably compare it to my all-time favorites - Lips Touch: Three Times and The Queen of Attolia. Erin Bow's writing style is as simple and precise, with not one extra, unnecessary word, as Megan Whalen Turner's and her story is as grounded in folklore while being completely original as Laini Taylor's.

The basic premise of the novel is that Kate, a lonely, orphaned child with no one to take care of her, is tricked by a witch into giving up her shadow in
Not since Kiki’s Delivery Service have I loved a talking cat this much!

I’m hoping that opening line will encourage you few hold outs to pick this one up. This book actually does remind me of a Studio Ghibli film, in that it is sweet and a bit fanciful, with odd and original mythology and characters, but also has surprisingly deep underlying themes. The grief and loneliness that run through this story are palpable.

Kate is named for her mother Katerina, who dies during childbirth. “I just call her

The Really Short Version:


The Short Version:

Basically, any book with an awesome cat in it needs to GET. ON. MY. SHELF. And the cat in Wood Angel [aka Plain Kate] is so awesome, he singlehandedly lead to the creation of a designated shelf for all such noble felines, which I am calling “Rad Catz”.

The Long(er) Version:

The sales assistant at the bookshop I loiter in frequent just about refused to let me leave without this book. Her love for it was palpable, she was holding it out to me like s
I am left in a flood of emotions after reading this book that I don't know how I'll be able to articulately express the things I want to say.

Plain Kate had me hooked from chapter one. The whole tone, feel, and plot of this book just screamed a fairy tale vibe. If you've read the original stories and not the Disney movie versions than you'll be able to appreciate the traditional use of song, animal guide/helper, and the forlorn/downtrodden young girl who manages to achieve her happy end.

Erin Bow'
The atmosphere of this book is... unique , in a very good way. Everything has a melancholy undertone to it, and you get sucked into this time period where magic is to be feared, and anyone who so much as look a little funny is accused of witchcraft.

Our heroine, Plain Kate, is one of these individuals. She has one eye the color of the muddy river bank and the other of the clear blue river, and she also has mad skills with her craving knife. Misfortune hits Kate when her father dies of the "witchf
Tamora Pierce
PLAIN KATE is a wonderful first novel set in a world that's a bit medieval Slavic. Plain Kate, who insists on that name, is a wood carver in a world in which excellence at anything is too often regarded as witchcraft. In the wake of her father's death, desperately lonely and knowing the people of her village are starting to suspect her of witchcraft, Plain Kate sells her shadow to a mysterious trader for a wish. That wish gives a voice to her cat, but it also throws Plain Kate into the middle of ...more
A beautifully written dark fairy tale featuring a strong heroine and an absolutely lovable cat sidekick.

Set in a world reminiscent of medieval Russia, Wood Angel(aka Plain Kate for the US readers), ranks among my favourite reads this year so far. It is not a pleasant comfort read, but more a dark type of fairy tale with wonderfully shaded and round characters. There is no black and white, no good or bad in this novel – every character has decisions to make and does not always choose the right wa
What can I say about Plain Kate that will get you to read it? Because that's what this really comes down to: I want YOU to read this fantastic little book. So, what do you want in your reading material today?
How about... interesting setting reminiscent of (but not identical to) various Eastern European cultures? (Edit: After finding Erin Bow's website, I learned this was inspired by Russian folktales- but nothing about it felt particularly Russian to me, so I stand by this. I may be wrong.
(4.5 stars) Plain Kate is the orphaned daughter of a master woodcarver, and a skilled woodcarver herself. She lives in the town of Samilae, whose inhabitants are a superstitious lot; when the crops fail or disease strikes, they cast around for someone to blame. A Roamer (Rom), perhaps. A person with a deformity. Or, maybe, someone with a skill they think is uncanny. An enigmatic stranger arrives in Samilae with a terrible plan, and vulnerable Kate is just the right person to serve as the linchpi ...more
Rich, haunting, unforgettable, this story draws on Russian folklore to immerse the reader in a unique and fully realized fantasy world.

Erin Bow is not only an award-winning poet but a masterful and captivating storyteller, with a knack for handling powerful emotions in an understated way that makes the reader feel them twice as strongly. She excels at portraying grief and horror, but she also has a deft way with humor, and though Kate's story leads her down some dark paths there are always glim
I had read 106 pages when I stopped to admit to myself: "This is not for me". I was getting impatient and started flipping pages to quicken my pace. My thoughts drifted to my pile of unread books to determine which book I would pick up next.

Somehow the book is not what I had expected, both storywise and characterwise:
It is basically a sorcery fantasy set in a fantastic clone of post-medieval Russia - with harsh guilds, no kindness between neighbors, superstitious people, who crave the postive
Aly (Fantasy4eva)
“And then because hope will break the heart better than any sorrow, she started to cry.”

(i specifically bought this online instead of the UK version (Wood Angel) at my local bookstore. i'm sure now you can see why. that title and cover just seemed all wrong for this book. i just love the title and cover of the US version. it fits perfectly ) :)


i have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. for the most part, i think i just felt like it held back in certain places and then randomly went all out
Sometimes you come across a book that you weren’t particularly keen to read but it blows you away with the sheer beauty of the story contained within its pages. The synopsis of Plain Kate doesn’t set it apart from the rest of the books in the genre. It doesn’t add anything to it that is wholly unique. There is nothing that prepares you for what’s inside. So you wander in, try a sentence. Or maybe two. Then before you know it, you have read a hundred pages and you simply must finish it because yo ...more
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Plain Kate is, quite honestly, just not the book for me. I know a countless number of my friends and most trusted reviewers have absolutely adored this tale, but despite being an ardent fantasy lover, I somehow could not get into it. Bow's debut follows the tale of Plain Kate, a tale of woe for every time something bad happens to her, something worse is waiting just around the corner. Kate is orphaned at a young age and after her father's age, she struggles to survive in their
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
It's hard to say exactly what I felt for this book without rambling. First of all, let me say, I think this book has one of the most tormented heroines I've ever read about, both in adult and young adult literature! How much crap can one girl go through? As I listened, I kept thinking how morose this story was. But I had to keep listening. Hoping that Plain Kate would find joy and a place to call home.

This is a novel that shows the destructive effects of prejudice in an interesting way. In this
One of the main reasons I finished this book is because, happily, I’d won it in a Goodreads giveaway. So, I felt I should finish it so that I could write a full and honest review.

I think the other reason I felt compelled to finish this book was because I hoped that, by the end, I’d learn what the book was about. Unfortunately, I don’t think I did.

I’m not sure what age this book targets, but it certainly is one of the grimmest books I’ve read. Many of the subjects are pretty disturbing, and there

...hope will break the heart better than any sorrow...

Plain Kate is the type of book I wish I could have read when I was younger. As much as I loved Kate and her world now, I think it would have absolutely worked its way into me when I was a kid. At the same time, though, there's so much to the story that I appreciate as an adult that maybe would have gone unnoticed as a child.

I love a good outsider story, and this one does it really well. Kate, of course, is an outsider, barely eking an existen
I'm a little perplexed that I didn't enjoy this book as much as everyone else who's read and reviewed it. I must have been in a different state of mind perhaps while reading this book as I didn't get swept away like all the previous readers of the book.

I typically like books of fantastical/magical genre but I must have had high expectations for this book and compared it to my favorites such as Finnikin of the Rock and Graceling and Plain Kate never compared to either one. The characters were al
Omg, this book DESTROYED ME. Seriously, I haven't cried because of a book like that sense I was 8 and Leslie had died in Bridge to Terabithia...
I can't overstate how much I love her writing. Erin Bow's writing is simplistic in the best possible way. Her writing brings to mind authors like Kate DiCamillo (The Tale of Despereaux), Mary Lawson (although she doesn't write YA novels) and Kathi Appelt (The Underneath). To me this makes her writing all the more powerful. And while her writing may be si
This bittersweet fairy tale follows Plain Kate as she trades her shadow to a trickster witch for her heart's desire (which is to not be alone and, when granted, leads to her cat Taggle learning to talk), and subsequently realizes the dreadful plans she put in motion by doing so. The world is apparently based on Russian folklore, and so the story is much darker and more violent than the cover would lead you to believe, but it's a beautiful book, just beautiful, mournful and uplifting at the same ...more
Erin Bow
Jan 07, 2011 Erin Bow rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Well, obviously, *I* like it.... What did you think I'd say?
Dec 11, 2010 Valerie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: Cara
Shelves: fantasy
Kate is a strong, caring, courageous girl. Her talking cat is the best I've ever encountered in fantasy. The plot was captivating, the writing great, the characters so well developed, the magic haunting, and the cover wonderful.

Plain Kate is a skilled wood carver, maybe one of the best. So when strange things start happening people blame Kate because some call her talent witch craft. She has to leave but before this she exchanges her shadow for her heart's wish--to not go alone. Hence the talki
Oh Plain Kate, you need a friend so bad. And you are not plain, so from now on I will call you Kate.

Kate is an orphan, her father having died at the beginning of the novel. She's got the worst luck in the world, so bad it may as well be magic. Combined with mysterious things that happen around her, people in her small town start accusing her of being a witch. And these people don't do particularly nice things to witches...

She does have a remarkable skill--she's a carver--though with the susurru
Plain Kate is a plainly wonderful, dark fairytale about a girl and her cat.

The setting is based on Slavic mythology and feels like the middle ages. It's a time of superstition and witch hunting. Whoever sticks out from the norm, by his looks or by an enormous talent, easily becomes the target of accusation and must fear for his life. Main character Kate is exactly this kind of easy scapegoat, she looks different and is a highly skilled carver. With her father dies all the protection she had, she
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
This used to be another member of my MUST-STOP-AVOIDING pile.

The reason behind my avoidance isn't that interesting so I shall refrain.

When I close my eyes and think of this book, do you know what I see?

An endless, desolate sea. Gray waves lapping and lashing out at each other, dark debris of ships and humanity long gone riding it out. A little light in the endless horizon peeking from the roiling mass of the tempetous clouds. And in this infernum, a little fish bobbing up and down and sideways.

Jul 23, 2011 Hallie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hallie by: R.A. Anderson
Shelves: fantasy, ya, audiobook
Three-and-a-half, really. High marks for the writing, which I loved, but lower for some niggles I had with the story. One of those was the fact that the Roamers (still not sure how I feel about the Roma/Roamers bit), who knew that being a witch was not synonymous with being evil at all, still responded as if it were when they were given evidence that Kate might be one. (Even that was a leap I didn't quite see why they made.) All in all, for a book about love, in many forms, it had a very high co ...more
Originally posted at Paperbackwonderland

I've just finished reading this story, and to be quite honest i'm not sure what to write about it...there were parts i loved, others that dragged and then there were ones that broke my heart.

So yes, i'll admit that the story surprised me. I was expecting something quite different...not so dark, hopeless and at times blood drenched...

This is the story of a girl known as Plain Kate:

"A long time ago, in a market town by a looping river, there lived an orphan
It sometimes takes me a while to ‘catch on’ and read a fantastic book. It might get all of the accolades in the world, but if I haven’t been seduced by the cover art or simply think to myself, “that sounds good, I should read it” and immediately act on the impulse, it can take years to rise to the top of my To Be Read (TBR) pile.

As you may suppose from the title of this post, such was the case with Erin Bow’s Plain Kate. I heard nothing but good things about it, especially from Shelf Elf and boo
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Kate's appearance 1 7 Dec 08, 2014 12:48PM  
Forever Young Adu...: January meeting date 17 37 Jan 21, 2014 09:42AM  
  • The Folk Keeper
  • The Lost Conspiracy
  • God Is in the Pancakes
  • The Boneshaker
  • Kat, Incorrigible (Kat, Incorrigible, #1)
  • Liar's Moon (Thief Errant, #2)
  • Dust City
  • Magic Under Glass (Magic Under, #1)
  • Tiger Moon
  • The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
  • Toads and Diamonds
  • The Floating Islands
  • Shadows on the Moon
  • The Crowfield Curse (Crowfield Abbey, #1)
  • The Brides of Rollrock Island
  • Flora Segunda (Flora Trilogy, #1)
  • The Princess Curse
  • The Farwalker’s Quest
I'm a city girl from farm country who studied particle physics, before ditching science for a lucrative (ha!) career writing books. These days I write SFF novels for young adults, and poetry.

My first novel, PLAIN KATE, was published in 2010 by Arthur A. Levine books at Scholastic in the United States, and by Scholastic Canada. It also came out as WOOD ANGEL from Chicken House in the UK.

I've got
More about Erin Bow...
Sorrow's Knot Children of Peace

Share This Book

“Hope will break the heart better than any sorrow.” 41 likes
“I have business to conduct in the language of fur and claw.” 17 likes
More quotes…