Review: Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow

December 21, 2013 4.5 stars, Book Review 16 ★★★★½

Sorrow's Knot

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.

Sometimes you find one of those books that just hurts so good. Sorrow’s Knot is that book. Erin Bow’s other book Plain Kate made me feel this way as well, and I have to say I love it when a book can elicit that much sympathetic pain from me.

As if I’d walked right through a spider web made of razer wire and all that left of me when I reach the other side is my shredded heart. Alright so maybe that’s a bit extreme of a description – but you get what I mean. I love Erin Bow’s stories – I think Sorrow’s Knot and and Plain Kate both embody the dark realities of life: that sadness and tragedy is real, and sometimes you win but more often you lose. And when you lose, dagnabit you lose hardcore. We all have those moments when you want to rail against life screaming “But this just isn’t fair!” – What is fair? Life so often isn’t fair…

However, when those good things do happen – it makes them all the more sweet and beyond precious. Because the fire of those tragedies has burned you clean.

Otter and her friends Cricket and Kestrel live in a small village surrounded by a ward made of knots made of yarn (leather yarn?) and this ward is to keep the dead at bay. Otter’s mother, Willow, is the village’s Binder. She makes the strongest knots and bindings that keep away the dead as well as binding the dead when they die.  Otter has always wanted to be a binder. But after the senior binder dies and her mother refuses to take her on as apprentice things quickly spiral into very terrible times indeed because Willow is going mad with grief and the White Handed dead are trying to break through the ward.

Sorrow’s Knot is a slow building tale for at least the first half or more of the book but I was so engrossed in the world and characters that I wasn’t bothered by this. While it is in the YA genre this is an excellent cross over book for adults as well. You do see the teens as youngsters for awhile but they grow up by the time you’ve reached the end and I never feel the juvenile quality about them that I too frequently get aggravated by with other young adult books. The storytelling was an excellent balance of show and tell and I really hope that there will someday be another book to follow this one. I can’t possibly recommend Erin Bow highly enough to readers that enjoy their reading experience with a healthy helping of heartache.

Be sure to stay tuned as Erin Bow will be guest posting for us very soon!

Sorrow’s Knot

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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16 Responses to “Review: Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow”

  1. Brea

    I like what you said about life being more unfair and tragic than happy endings and roses. It’s so true and I love it when a book can demonstrate that well. Then when something good happens? It’s just … ah. It’s just one of those great, overwhelmed, relieved feelings that can leave you in happy, bitter sweet tears.
    This is a great review. I thoroughly enjoyed it! (:
    Brea recently posted…Tempted to Read Someone Else’s Chrissy Present?My Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Thanks! I’m so glad you agree! I hope you decide to read this one. I loved her debut book and that’s why I got the feeling I would love this one as well. Personally tho I wish they would have gone with a different cover, that is the only thing I didn’t like about the book.

      • Brea

        I think I might pick it up. It will be refreshing after the amount of YA contemporary, sci-fi and dystopia I’ve been reading.
        And really? I have to disagree, I like the cover. (: But I haven’t read the book, maybe it doesn’t suit the story?

  2. Tammy

    I haven’t read either of these books, but I do trust your very good judgement:) Those books that really make you FEEL seem to be few and far between. I always treasure finding authors that can do that. Looking forward to reading this one!
    Tammy recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (45)My Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes yes! Trust my judgement! hehe I trust yours as well and I can tell you I know you would love Plain Kate as much as I did. Sorrow’s Knot is a bit different I still really loved it but I do know plenty of people will have a hard time with the slow build.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Heck yes! I mean they quite literally become “adults” you know or hit that time in their life when their society/village considers them officially adults. It’s so cool to see that transition and how they handle it. You will like this one and Plain Kate.

  3. kimbacaffeinate

    Well your review has me quite curious, and this book/shorts are totally new to me. I love the idea of binding. The fact that this is a good crossover appeals to me as well, since I struggle with YA outside of the dystopian genre. Excellent and descriptive review!
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…A Cursed Moon by Cecy RobsonMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Hey if you knit or crochet or love playing with yarns haha this should also appeal to you because as I was reading I kept looking lovingly at all my mounds of yarn.

      Oh you favor YA dystopians? I’m rather burned out on those lately.