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Sorrow's Knot

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,264 ratings  ·  273 reviews
In the world of Sorrow’s Knot, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry and nearly invisible, something deadly. The dead can only be repelled or destroyed with magically knotted cords and yarns. The women who tie these knots are called binders.

Otter is the daughter of Willow, a binder of great power. She’s a proud and privileged gi
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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Kristin While it does share the idea of dead spirits threatening the living, Sorrow's Knot isn't particularly like Sabriel. The dead in Sorrow's Knot aren't r…moreWhile it does share the idea of dead spirits threatening the living, Sorrow's Knot isn't particularly like Sabriel. The dead in Sorrow's Knot aren't really raised intentionally; there are no conflicts between necromancers and binders. Sorrow's Knot is more of a commentary on grief than a struggle between good and evil like Sabriel.(less)

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Average rating 3.77  · 
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jv poore
How many times have you asked “Why?” only to be told (with a bit of exasperation) “Because, we’ve always done it this way!” From the outside looking in, this can be frustrating, a non-answer. It doesn’t explain a thing and it seems somewhat defensive and stubborn. Of course, if you have “always done it this way”, and there are no obvious repercussions, the old “if it ain’t broke…..” adage may seem more than adequate. With that philosophy, there would be no progress, no improvements, we would bec ...more
If I had realized how apt the title of this novel is, perhaps I wouldn't have picked it up. In her sophomore novel, Erin Bow, weaves an eerie tale of grief; of the living, of the dead, and our inability to let go of our loved ones. Granted, it's a fairly weighty subject matter, but that doesn't discount the fact that this book blew my mind. I just didn't see it coming. Sorrow's Knot is fantasy at its best: creepy and alluring; is contemporary at its finest: realistic and honest emotions; and hor ...more
Tamora Pierce
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-ya-yr
This is a gut-wrenching, beautiful, scary tale of three friends, a Storyteller, a Hunter, and a Binder (she ties knots that tie things together, and sometimes release them), whose village is surrounded by the ghosts of the dead. Most of them can be dealt with, but the horrifying White Hands will devour the spirits of the living, and return to trap others. Only a Binder can bind the newly dead so they won't return as White Hands. And the most terrifying White Hand of all is one who was once a Bin ...more
Otter, Kestrel, and Cricket belong to the Shadow People, where everyone has a calling. Otter is destined to be a binder, weaving knots to keep her people safe from danger. Kestrel is a ranger, expert in forest lore. And Cricket is a story teller. But the forest is haunted by the dead, and no one is truly safe. When tragedy strikes, it will take all three talents to finally try to break the curse.
This book is very hard to describe. It's set in a magical North America, somewhere just to the east o
Renna Mira (AKA Enna Isilee)
Waffling between 3 and 4 stars. So... 3.5?

I loved this story and the world and the characters. HOWEVER I never really understood what was going on...

This was one of those books (and maybe there's a word for this?) where they never actually come out an explain anything. You are just supposed to piece things together by watching the characters live their lives. And maybe it's just because my brain is super tired from senior semester, but I just could never wrap my brain fully around anything. I fo
Who told me to read this? Was it one of you? I know it was recommended in relation to Killer of Enemies but I can't find a comment or review that suggested I read this instead of that. It was Addley.
Well, whoever it was Addley: Thank you. This is a phenomenal story except for that last 1/4 and that was just personal taste on my part.

Here is a not-dragons/castles/European-based fantasy that centers on the balance between life and death. Literally. There are little deaths (neither the Shakespeare
Nov 14, 2013 rated it liked it

I really loved the beginning of this book, and was sure it'd be a five star read, but then something seemed to change. I still can't quite put my finger on it... it's possible that it was the late love interest, and how that felt really rushed, or more likely that the latter pace of the book/writing didn't pick up where I had expected (and wanted) it too.

The writing is not bad by any means, and at first it was perfect; sparse, eloquent, imaginative, but then I got to some point in which
I am the first to mark this as to-read. Muahaha!!!!

(That's because I added it! =P )
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sorrow’s Knot had some big footsteps in which to follow, since Erin Bow’s debut novel Plain Kate was pretty terrific. But I’m pleased to report that Sorrow’s Knot not only lived up to my expectations but exceeded them. This is a fantastic novel, and better than Plain Kate.

Sorrow’s Knot is set in a world that feels a lot like the Pacific Northwest, and draws from (without copying anyone or anything in particular) Native American cultures. The heroine, Otter, is growing up in a village that is alm
Gina (My Precious Blog)
Not a good start to my 2014 reading. I'm a huge fan of Erin Bow. With talent and ease she crafted one of my favorite stories of all time, Plain Kate. When it was announced she had released another novel, of course I couldn't pass it up when I saw it available on Netgalley. It was with eager anticipation I opened the ebook file and began to read. Near the beginning I was hopeful. As the story progressed sadly the disappointment factor increased with each passing page. The story had potential. The ...more
Before we begin any sort of review on this novel, let me just say I’m a shameless Erin Bow fangirl. I read and loved Plain Kate which is an amazing book and one you need to read if you haven’t done so already.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to Sorrow’s Knot. And I really don’t know where to start talking about this book. Honestly, I don’t. Okay, I can do this.

Sorrow’s Knot is brilliantly Canadian without being explicit about it. The novel tells a story; by that I mean I felt
Once again, I've picked up an Erin Bow book, and once again I find myself struggling for words that aren't 'just read this, it's beautiful'. I'm gonna try to articulate it better, but I might not be able to so... just read this, it's beautiful.

Comparisons between this book and Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series are probably inevitable, since both share the concept of binding the dead so that they may not walk again. They are, however, fundamentally different sorts of stories: the Abhorsen books are
Julianna Helms
Quick reaction:



Definitely one of my top 3 all-time favorites, right up there with TIGER LILY.

I love this book more than words can say.


-nonono i don't want this to be over please no-

-the writing is so beautiful I want to wrap myself in it and let it sing me to sleep-

-small bone to pick: the c
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
The best kind of weird, odd, and strange. A distinctly Erin Bow effort and a good one.
Small Review
Originally posted at Small Review

I adored Plain Kate , mostly because Erin Bow created a rich world with depth, culture, history, and texture, filled it with people (and one very important animal) who completely claimed my love, and then she spent the entire book ripping my heart out with the beautiful heart-smashing loveliness of her harsh, cruel world.

Plain Kate was the best kind of fairy tale. It was gorgeously written, but those pretty words breathed life into her characters, vitality int
Whitley Birks
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
See more reviews on my blog.

Beautiful. Beautiful writing. Beautiful characters. Beautiful worldbuilding. Beautiful concept. Beautiful execution. The whole thing was beautiful. The only part of this book I didn’t like was the ending (really confusing, which made it anticlimactic) but I had so many feelz from the rest of it that I don’t even care. 4.5 stars for the book, + .5 stars for knocking my socks off.

I adored everything about this book. It has a very lyrical writing style, and it comes off
That was really, really good. Sorrow's Knot is part coming of age tale, the best kind, about facing what scares us and changes us, but growing up through it all. So here there are echoes of Plain Kate, in what we may fear the most-- losing someone you love. Wanting to have them back. Struggling to let them go.

I'm let down by some things that happened in the end, but overall I loved the plot and structure of the book; it never let up the suspense and I nearly finished it all in one sitting becau
What the crap did I just read. This was so different from anything else I've read and the world-building... Actually, I do have tiny, nitpicky questions about the world-building, but overall it's spectacular! I love when I get to read something truly fresh and new! And when that something manages to be 1) truly creepy, and 2) truly sad as well, then I'm as happy as a duck in a pond. No wonder my friends were gaga over Erin Bow even before THE SCORPION RULES. ...more
So interesting, so cool.

Although it took a bit of time for me to understand the story and I definitely struggled through the first half, the story picked up when the trio left Westmost right until the very end.

But it doesn't end here for these characters. In fact as Willow had said, it is only just the beginning.
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Originally reviewed here @ Angieville

How long has it been since I read a really good horror novel? And how did I not realize going in that that's exactly what SORROW'S KNOT was? I read Erin Bow's debut novel Plain Kate when it came out and was suitably impressed with her writing, even though the book as a whole didn't work for me perfectly. But as soon as I heard that her sophomore novel was to be an indigenous tale of ghosts and the generations of women who bind them, I felt certain I would be
elise rose
Okay, I did not sign up for the emotional trauma, but, dang, this book was really, really, really good. It reminded me a little bit of Sabriel by Garth Nix since it's the same kind of dark fantasy.
Other than that, it's a very unique and creative book. I loved the characters, and the story was incredible.
In other words, this book ripped out my heart and chopped it into little pieces. I loved it. You should read it. Because that makes sense
But.... yeah, it has "sorrow" in the title for a reason.
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Sometimes it is so hard being a blogger, because books like Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow come along. A book that is so beautifully written, heart wrenching, and immediately beloved that I know whatever words I come up with to tell you about it will be woefully inadequate.

The writing in Sorrow's Knot is wordcraft at its most eloquent. Otter's story is a complicated one that ties the mythology of her people with their present dangers. Otter he
Evelyn (devours and digests words)
Be warned! This book contains a lot of feels!

I expected many sorrows the moment I started this book. And I was right. I had it coming but it still hit me right in the gut and swept me off my feet.

There are three friends. Otter who is a Binder, Kestrel who is a Ranger and Cricket who is a Storyteller.

There's magic in binding. Otter and the others like her can weave with their cords to set up a ward against the Shadowed people: the slip and the worst of all, The White Hands.

One touch from this cr
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Sorrow's Knot is all worldbuilding. It is the story of a town near the end of the world, a town where the dead flit near the living, kept away only by a binder's wards.

The writing is evocative and yet distant, as if shared by a storyteller. It centers on Otter, whose life follows a coming-of-age pattern reminiscent of other novels: she has power, she is not chosen for a vocation when she enters adulthood, she grows up too quickly, she witnesses death. She is also fierce and brave and caring. She
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars!

beautifully written and wonderfully told.
i really appreciated the obvious research
and care Bow took to write an inspired by
Native American fantasy. the lore and mythos
mixed with the magic and ghosts were wonderfully
done. i enjoyed the relationships and really
loved the sister friendship.

an utterly original contribution to
YA fantasy. recommended!
Jun 21, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved reading this book, the world was so interesting and I loved these characters, and it was an amazing read!
I am somewhat notorious for going into books completely blind, and I generally ignore author blurbs, so even though it was Laini Taylor's endorsement that piqued my interest enough to go back and accept the review request for Sorrow's Knot, I still didn't really know what I was in for. And now? My only regret is not reading it sooner.

By chapter two, I was reeling with curiosity, awe, and delight. I was grinning at my Kindle, squirming with excitement as I savored every word. I went into the kitc
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
DNF. Gave up at page 183. My review only reflects the part of the novel that I read.

The story wasn't completely horrible. As most books do, Sorrow's Knot had its strengths and its weaknesses, However, I do put extra emphasis on the weakness part. On the up side, the theme was original and the writing flowed nicely. However, it's important to note that just because the writing style is poetic and seemingly profound, doesn't mean that it makes sense. On the contrary, it can sound like a whole lot
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for providing an advance copy of this book.


Reading Plain Kate earlier this year, I knew Erin Bow was an author to watch out for. Crafting deep worlds and strong characters having very intimate connections to their environments, I hoped that her second novel, Sorrow’s Knot would deliver in the same vein.

I wasn’t disappointed. While I felt like Sorrow’s Knot pacing was a touch all over the place, it weirdly didn’t effect my connection to the overall na
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love speculative fiction (both science fiction and fantasy) but I have to admit that I am often disappointed at how often the same ideas get repeated over and over. Which is why I am so impressed with Sorrow's Knot. I have never even begun to imagine a world like what Bow creates and it kept me completely immersed from beginning to end. Sorrow's Knot is the story of a Binder's daughter, Otter, and her struggle to understand the dangers of the craft which she has grown up with. Binders protect ...more
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