87. SORROW’S KNOT, BY ERIN BOW
Recommended by my coach, which was very unexpected. Frankly, the fact that I enjoyed it as much as I did was even more unexpected...
Synopsis: Otter has the power to be a binder, and has always assumed she would be one after her mother. Binders are vitally important, being the ones to craft the knots that keep the dead away from the village. Her mother, however, refuses to take her as an apprentice, clamoring that the knots feel wrong. Otter receives no training and is left semi-isolated in their society. When a White Hands (the most dangerous and feared type of dead) attacks, Otter is forced to take on responsibilities she’s not ready for.
Overall enjoyment: It blew me away. It was such a fresh concept for a fantasy world, and so beautifully executed. As much as I love the European medieval setting, it is so gratifying to see something I haven’t already read a billion times. And it was very well-written.
Plot: It could be called a magical quest, but the traveling only starts well into the book. It definitely doesn’t feel like the story drags in the beginning, though. The elements are very well constructed and connected. Nothing felt artificial. Maybe Otter’s love interest, but the romance only starts when the book is almost finished, so it didn’t spoil the whole thing for me; I didn’t feel like rolling my eyes even once while reading this. And it only feels weird because it happens so fast, it’s not implausible. I also loved the fact that she doesn’t have a love interest for most of the book, and even when she met him, the story was most definitely not about romance.
Characters: Very well constructed and balanced. Even though there were two girls and a boy, she didn’t even mention the possibility of a love triangle. All of them are very believable, with complex emotions and coherent reactions.
World/setting: The world building is flawless. She creates something very different from what we’re used to seeing, but she has no trouble in explaining to the reader how this world works. She doesn’t even need to make a great exposition, she uses the story, the speech patterns, little bits of myth and legends, and the very geography to build her world. And it was a place I definitely would like to explore more.
Writing style: It had a beautiful lyricism that made the story feel like a song of legend. She doesn’t condescend to her readers by over-explaining, repeating and making everything obvious; that is very rare in YA literature. The words flow into each other as if that was their natural order.
Representation: It feels very much like a Native American world. The cover also implies that, with the girl’s style of dress and features.
Political correctness: Once again, if you take the time to develop your characters fully, it’s very hard for you to commit great blunders in here. There are many things I’m tempted to mention, but they’re so subtle that this review would end up way too long if I were to fully explain them. (And I’m very much sure that the only reason why I picked up on them was because I liked this book so much.)
Up next: Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord