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!