Sorrow's Knot

( 5 )

Overview


Winner of the 2014 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, from the author of PLAIN KATE

At the very edge of the world live the Shadowed People. And with them live the dead.

There, in the village of Westmost, Otter is born to power. She is the proud daughter of Willow, the greatest binder of the dead in generations. It will be Otter’s job someday to tie the knots of the ward, the only thing that ...

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Overview


Winner of the 2014 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, from the author of PLAIN KATE

At the very edge of the world live the Shadowed People. And with them live the dead.

There, in the village of Westmost, Otter is born to power. She is the proud daughter of Willow, the greatest binder of the dead in generations. It will be Otter’s job someday to tie the knots of the ward, the only thing that keeps the living safe.

Kestrel is training to be a ranger, one of the brave women who venture into the forest to gather whatever the Shadowed People can’t live without and to fight off whatever dark threat might slip through the ward’s defenses.

And Cricket wants to be a storyteller -- already he shows the knack, the ear -- and already he knows dangerous secrets.
But something is very wrong at the edge of the world. Willow’s power seems to be turning inside out. The ward is in danger of falling. And lurking in the shadows, hungry, is a White Hand, the most dangerous of the dead, whose very touch means madness, and worse.

Suspenseful, eerie, and beautifully imagined.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/14/2013
Otter is the daughter of Willow, the most powerful woman in a matriarchy that exists on the edge of a dangerous forest. Willow, the binder, casts yarn into “wards” that protect the village by keeping the dead at bay. Although Otter has inherited her mother’s magic, Willow mysteriously refuses to teach her spells, expels her from home, and chooses another girl as her apprentice. Otter must rely on two best friends: Kestrel, a ranger in training, and Cricket, who plans to become the village’s storyteller. When Cricket runs afoul of head ranger Thistle, the three friends leave the village for an uncertain future. Bow’s background in science is evident in her Northern American setting; everything from the botany to the zoology feels authentic. Her prose is painterly, though the pacing occasionally lags under the weight of descriptive exposition. As with Bow’s debut, Plain Kate (2010), this dark fantasy has an old-fashioned feel: there’s a strong-willed protagonist with little knowledge of how to channel her power, and readers will enjoy watching her discover that “the world was larger than we knew.” Ages 12–up. Agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

Praise for PLAIN KATE

Winner of the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award

YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults

"Plain Kate, [Bow's] first young adult novel, demonstrates a mature, haunting artistry... The plot unfolds with the swiftness and dramatic urgency of an adventure tale, yet each event has a measured gravity.... [An] outstanding novel." -- NEW YORK TIMES

"Bow seamlessly integrates ironic humor and existential distance, keeping readers, like Kate, quietly convinced that where there's life, there's hope. This sprawling landscape, dotted with superstitious villages and noble but equally uninformed gypsies, is superbly developed.... [U]nder the fantasy elements lies an effective and moving coming-of-age novel." -- BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS, starred review

"[S]tunning debut fantasy." -- HORN BOOK

"If I were in charge of the Printz Awards, I would have found my winner this weekend.... What a mysterious, horrifying, sweet, sad, romantic, haunting, funny book, filled with poetry and magic. Really, all of those things... It's wonderful. If like me you are not a fantasy fan, you might like it anyway. And if you are, you will be mad for it." -- Karen Cushman, Newbery Medalist
"Finished PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow, am staggered by it. Beautiful in every way: gorgeous writing, imagination, storytelling, heart, heartbreak." -- Laini Taylor, author of LIPS TOUCH

"Grief beats at the heart of adolescence in this fantasy version of North America.

For the free women of the forest, death is a complex, dangerous thing: The dead are bound, and some rise again as White Hands, whose touch brings madness and transformation. Bow’s lyrical writing, which beats like the storyteller’s drum Cricket and, later, Orca wield, tells a story both specific and timeless. The conflict between tradition and change, the tensions between mothers and daughters, and the journey west (itself both physical and metaphorical) all play a role. Within the grand thematic scope is a simpler story, reminiscent of the timeless hero’s journey: Otter, the binder’s daughter, untrained and called upon to face great threats, must use the tools of tradition and forbidden knowledge (a secret story echoes throughout the novel) to remake the world. Add to that epic scope two love stories, a genuine portrait of friendship, a nuanced exploration of loss and letting go, and a fine tracery of humor as well as plenty of tears, and you have a winner.

A lovely gem, dark and quiet as the dead but glimmering with life as well. Not to be missed. " - Kirkus reviews

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Starred Review
At the edge of Bow’s fantasy world stands Westmost, a small village of women who bind the souls of the dead and secure the knots of the ward to protect the living from the voracious White Hands, shadowy creatures whose mark means certain death. As the daughter of the most powerful binder in generations, Otter is next in line to inherit the power and responsibility of binding the dead, but one awful night changes all that when she’s cast out by her mother. Otter finds solace with her friends, Kestrel, a ranger, and Cricket, an apprentice storyteller, until it becomes clear that her mother’s power is no longer protecting Westmost but threatening it. As in her previous work, Plain Kate (BCCB 2/10), Bow displays the patient, rhythmic pace of a seasoned storyteller, and the spare elegance of her prose manages to inspire both chills and tears as the tale requires. Ruled by tradition and overshadowed by death, the snowed-in village of Westmost makes an evocative setting for three teens to wrestle with their fate, and the details of the vaguely North American, pre-industrial world are immersive without being overwhelming. The heart of this story, however, lies with Otter and her friends and their efforts to come to terms with the harsh realities of adulthood, the necessity of grief and mourning, and their realization that sometimes love does not translate into salvation. Dark but ultimately hopeful, this quiet fantasy will leave its mark on readers and have them contemplating shadows in a whole new way. 

Praise for SORROW'S KNOT

A KIRKUS Best Book of the Year

*"A winner. A lovely gem, dark and quiet as the dead but glimmering with life as well. Not to be missed." -- KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review

*"Bow displays the patient, rhythmic pace of a seasoned storyteller, and the spare elegance of her prose manages to inspire both chills and tears as the tale requires.... Dark but ultimately hopeful, this quiet fantasy will leave its mark on readers and have them contemplating shadows in a whole new way." -- BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS, starred review

VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Sarah Cofer
Otter grew up mostly unafraid of the dead lurking in the forest shadows. She descends from a long line of powerful women in a matriarchal society called the Shadow People. She is binder-born, daughter of Willow, the greatest binder of all the ages. Binders are highly revered for their powerful ability to cast the knots that bind the dead and keep ghosts at bay. Willow, stricken by the grief of losing her mentor, rejects Otter as her apprentice in order to prevent Otter from meeting the same deadly fate. Willow is touched by the feared White Hand ghost which causes her madness and death. Before she dies, she confides in Otter that there is something wrong with the knots. Otter is forced to become the village binder, though she has not been trained to do so. After the death of her mother and a close friend, Otter becomes determined to unravel the secrets of her people and goes in search of the lost city, the place where all the stories began. This well-written, descriptive, and lyrical Native American story is a unique and refreshing addition to the ever-popular fantasy genre. While the book is fiction, it feels well researched and steeped in Native American folklore. The world-building is interesting and the characters have great depth as they navigate the intensity of first love, intense sorrow, and grief. Bow’s writing style is captivating and one of the characters is a skilled storyteller whose stories read with the rhythm of a drum. While the book is dark and occasionally frightening, readers will find great beauty in the intensely loyal friendships and the love the friends share. This title is highly recommended for both public and school libraries. Reviewer: Sarah Cofer; Ages 11 to 18.
Children's Literature - Desiree Solso
Otter, Kestrel, and Cricket share everything with each other in the tiny village of Westmost. Together all of their lives, they all know that the times of the childhood are ending and soon they will be entering their rite of passage. Otter, daughter of a binder, both knows and fears her coming destiny. Kestrel is excited and ready to accept her position as a ranger in the tribe. Cricket, a talented storyteller, fears the day he will have to leave the tribe. He is the only male in a tribe of females. As a child he was allowed to stay, but once he reaches adulthood he fears leaving the only life he has ever known. Leaving his friends, family, and the protection of the knots the binders use to keep the White Hand at bay. Otter always knew that she would be the next binder, tying knots and weaving webs to protect the village. However, when she is passed over and all but thrown out of the home she has ever knows she joins forces with Kestrel and Cricket to make a new life for all three of them. Shortly thereafter, the White Hand has escaped the protection webs and in fear Cricket is cast out. Following after Cricket, Kestrel and Otter face unthinkable challenges, hardship and heartache. However, through it all, they find and create a new destiny for a tribe and unlock a mystery that has surrounded their tribe for generations. The story is slow to start and often hard to follow; it is broken down into four parts, with the last two parts having the most action and climatic sequence of events. The slowness of the book and confusing aspect in the beginning could make it hard for some readers to make it all the way through the book. It would appeal to young adult readers who enjoy fantasy, the supernatural, and stories about native peoples. Reviewer: Desiree Solso; Ages 12 up.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-01
Grief beats at the heart of adolescence in this fantasy version of North America. For the free women of the forest, death is a complex, dangerous thing: The dead are bound, and some rise again as White Hands, whose touch brings madness and transformation. Bow's lyrical writing, which beats like the storyteller's drum Cricket and, later, Orca wield, tells a story both specific and timeless. The conflict between tradition and change, the tensions between mothers and daughters, and the journey west (itself both physical and metaphorical) all play a role. Within the grand thematic scope is a simpler story, reminiscent of the timeless hero's journey: Otter, the binder's daughter, untrained and called upon to face great threats, must use the tools of tradition and forbidden knowledge (a secret story echoes throughout the novel) to remake the world. Add to that epic scope two love stories, a genuine portrait of friendship, a nuanced exploration of loss and letting go, and a fine tracery of humor as well as plenty of tears, and you have a winner. A lovely gem, dark and quiet as the dead but glimmering with life as well. Not to be missed. (Fantasy. 13 & up)
School Library Journal
01/01/2014
Gr 6–8—In this story about loss and letting go, Otter, like her mother, Willow, is a binder, a person who can banish the dead using the magical strength of knots. The more powerful the binder's magic, the stronger the knots' hold. Otter's skills, along with those of the rangers and storytellers, are necessary to protect her matriarchal society, the Shadowed People, from the dangers of the dead spirits that prey on the living. However, Willow warns her daughter before her death that there is something terribly wrong with the knots. There's some romance, but the theme of binding things too tightly and the problems that arise with not releasing loved ones dominates the story. Sorrow's Knot is a dystopian novel that does not deal with the destruction of the broader world. Rather, it delves into the mythology of a group of people and how their prejudices and resistance to change came to be. Readers of suspense will love the dark tension of the story line, an ebb and flow that carries through to the very end.—Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545166669
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 629,942
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Erin Bow was born in the Midwest and studied particle physics in college, eventually working at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. She then decided to leave science in order to concentrate on her love of writing. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario, with her husband James and their two daughters. Erin Bow can be visited online at www.erinbow.com.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2014

    Bluepaw

    Dashes and finds them its ok edme i and cheetahpelt will take care of you no scratch that the whole Clan will take care of me see the thing is all you gotta do is follow our directions and you will be safe. Do you want to be a apprentice like me?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2014

    Edme

    She nods and starts back.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2014

    Willowkit

    Follows

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 3, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Michelle Randall for Readers' Favorite On the world

    Reviewed by Michelle Randall for Readers' Favorite

    On the world where Sorrow's Knot takes place, the tribe of Free Women think they live on the edge of the earth, and there is nothing beyond the forest. It is their job to protect the tribe, or at least the binder's job. The story tells us of three young kids who are trying to find their places in the tribe, but they aren't going to stick to the old rules. Otter feels that she is going to be a binder - her mother is a binder - but little does she know her mother has other plans for her, and refuses to let her daughter learn to be a binder. The shock and sadness causes Otter to move into an old hut that was abandoned, followed soon after by her two best friends, Cricket and Krestel. They each use the magic they have to find their way, to understand the old stories, and to unravel the mysteries that are their world. Erin Bow wraps the unknown of a foreign world with the familiar and weaves a story that will keep you glued till the very end.

    Sorrow's Knot is a fantasy tale because it takes place on another world, but you will forget that as you read the book. As you start reading, it feels more like an old Indian folk legend from long, long ago that wraps around you as you read. There are mysteries in the old stories, and Cricket finds them first, and I think I enjoyed that because he was the least valued in their tribe. It only made sense that Erin Bow would bring him to the top. The characters are teenagers, which is what puts it in that coming-of-age story group, but it so much more. Teens and adults alike will love this book, and enjoy the world that has been created.

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  • Posted November 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A Definite Must for MG and YA Readers!! I would like to thank b

    A Definite Must for MG and YA Readers!!

    I would like to thank both NetGalley and Scholastic for granting me the chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. Though I received the e-book for free that in no way influences this review.

    <blockquote>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 girl who takes it for granted that she will be a binder some day herself. But when Willow’s power begins to turn inward and tear her apart, Otter finds herself trapped with a responsibility she’s not ready for, and a power she no longer wants.</blockquote>


    This story was very creative and interesting, holding within its heart a strong message. However the nice thing is that the message did not overpower the story, or become the story. That was left to the creativity of the characters, each of whom played a valuable role in sharing their part of the larger story. We first meet the main character, Otter, as she is being born, and in that moment we learn of her mother's hopes &amp; dreams for her. Born to Willow who is considered to be the most powerful binder since the time of Mad Spider even though she is the second binder, under head binder Tamarack. We get to be with Otter as she grows up, a rough and tumble kid who is well liked by all. Due to her presumed status as a binder she could have held herself above everyone, but she never did. She, Kestrel and Cricket become best friends early on - they basically form their own pack. And, like most kids they are often getting into trouble. Typically Otter gets the blame for all the trouble, because no one but Otter and Cricket ever get to see Kestrel's mischievous side, and as Cricket is a boy he is automatically discounted, leaving Otter as the obvious instigator of any mischief.

    Kestrel is considered by all to be the levelheaded member of their little pack, the one who balances the other two. When crossing out of childhood she becomes accepted into the Ranger cord, training under the head ranger Thistle. That is until the day Thistle does something that breaks Kestrel's heart so badly that it almost destroys her. Something she'll never, ever forgive Thistle for.

    And then there is Cricket, making up the third leg of their tripod. Although considered to be powerless because of his gender Cricket is so clearly a natural storyteller that he is accepted into that cord. In addition to being allowed into the cord he also trains under the head storyteller Flea, both of which are exceptional in this freehold pinch of Westmost. In Westmost it is known that men have no power and therefore aren't considered part of the pinch - male children are almost always sent to other pinches, yet Cricket never was.

    Even though everyone in the pinch knows Otter was declared to be 'a binder born' her mother doesn't ask her to join the cord. In fact she refuses to take Otter on as her second, leaving the pinch with only one binder after Tamarack passes away. This is unheard of and shows just how odd Willow is becoming, yet no one in the pinch questions her. By not being accepted into the Binder's cord Willow leaves Otter in a state of limbo, no longer a child, but not yet an adult, since she doesn't belong to a cord. In declining to accept her daughter into the cord Willow also leaves her homeless, forced to move out of the binder's lodge, the only home she has ever know. Otter is heartbroken, for she has always known she is a binder, for she has the power and lacks only the training.

    Much to Otter's surprise, as she is moving in to an unused lodge, preparing to learn to live all alone, both Kestrel and Cricket show up with all their belongings. As always the unit sticks together. Even when Kestrel and Cricket commit to only each other for their entire lives - something the women of the freehold pinch just don't do - they don't exclude Otter, never making her feel like a third wheel. These three support each other regardless of the risks, which run from very light to exile from the pinch, which is certain death no matter what cord you belong to. Even knowing the risks they still do whatever is required to support one another.

    A short journey that descends into heartbreak ends up spawning an even longer journey for Otter and Kestrel. On their travels they meet Orca, a young man from beyond the end of the world, at least the world as they know it. And surprisingly Orca has power, proving to them just how wrong some of the beliefs of their pinch are - a discovery that comes at a terribly high cost for all involved. Through the power of the individuals and the strength of their friendships so much is learned and changed for good, not just for each of them but for their entire culture and way of life. This journey is just the tip of the iceberg, both in the sense of actual travel and emotional growth. All of these changes are set as they are coming of age, making this an excellent book for both middle grade and young adults.

    Ms. Bow has taken bits and pieces from various cultural beliefs and mixed them together with her own creations, ending up with something entirely new, yet with a sense of the familiar. The arc of the story is smooth, and the pace is consistent with the actions of all the characters. A creative tale without doubt, with some worthwhile messages deftly interwoven throughout. I would easily recommend this book to all readers, but especially MG and YA readers.

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