Monday, September 12, 2011

Review - "Kat, Incorrigible"

I don't believe I've yet done any "meets" in this blog.  As in, 'this book is A meets B'.  It can sometimes be a lazy way to describe books, and sometimes a very creative way to do so.  Describing The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place as "Lemony Snicket meets Jane Eyre meets Call of the Wild" certainly sticks in one's mind.  For Stephanie Burgis' debut novel, I can't resist the urge to throw out a "meets".  It's "Jane Austen meets Harry Potter meets Our Only May Amelia".  Gotcha, didn't I?
 In Kat, Incorrigible, the titular heroine lights up her narration with a tremendous opening: "I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin.  I made it almost to the end of my front garden".  What a cracker of a beginning, eh?  The first sentence has you raring in your seat, ready for adventure, and the second plops you unceremoniously back down to earth with a bit of a laugh as a consolation prize.  It also gives you a good idea of time and place without being specific.  The impending ruin in question is the proposed marriage between her eldest sister Elissa and the possibly homicidal Sir Neville.  The marriage is being arranged to help lift the family out of debt and save reckless brother Charles from debtor’s prison.  You see, Kat’s family has its troubles, and has its secrets too.  Kat’s mother was practiced magic, and sister Angeline may be attempting to follow in her footsteps when she hides away her mother’s spell books.
 When Kat, Elissa and Angeline, along with their imposing Stepmama arrive at a stately manor for a house party, things really start to get interesting.  Kat must deal with the magic she’s unleashed from her mother’s cabinet, while juggling her sisters’ love lives and trying to escape the clutches of the sinister Sir Neville, who knows more about Kat and her magic than he lets on.  There’s a daring dinner party, a dastardly highwayman and lots of popping in and out of magic rooms.  And like many a tale from Miss Austen and her contemporaries, there’s a last minute discovery that changes the landscape and resolves our sisters troubles.
 What I found most charming about Kat, Incorrigible was Kat herself.  She’s clever and full of spirit, and will have nothing to do with “simpering females”.  She has a bit of my beloved May Amelia in her, in her youngest sibling spunk and her desire for adventure.  She’s positively abuzz with the possibility of being hijacked by a highwayman.  Equally entertaining and clearly drawn are Kat’s sisters, especially Angeline, who has some secrets of her own to keep.  I loved the way Burgis created her sisterly dynamic.  It’s very realistic and relatable, while at the same time keeping with the novel’s place and time.  I know this is going to be a series, and I look forward to what lies ahead for Kat and her sisters.
 There’s an audience for this book, though I’m a little lost on who exactly that might be.  I would definitely recommend it for fans of aforementioned Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (must be something about that word: incorrigible) and of the similarly spunky Enola Holmes.  I don’t get a lot of Jane Austen fans in my department, but I can grab some fans of historical fiction.  I would say fans of Harry Potter (which covers such a huge span), but I’m not sure most boys would go for Kat, and not every Potter fan will go for her particular brand of magic.  In any case, I’m going to look for Kat’s audience, because this is just the kind of book I relish putting in the hands of just the right reader.
 Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
2011, Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Library copy

1 comment:

  1. I saw this book at Barnes and Noble yesterday, and was a bit intrigued by it. Now I'm a huge fan of Maryrose Wood's Incorrigible Children, and at first I was struck with a sense of surprise, and felt like this story was trying to copy The Incorrigibles a bit too much... However I must admit that after the initial shock I'm still interested in reading it and I really enjoyed your review. I guess I might just have to check this out :)