Sorrow’s Knot

Title: Sorrow’s Knot

Author: Erin Bow

Otter is the daughter of the greatest binder in Westmost, Willow. The binders keep back the dead, from the little shadows that sting and numb to the dreaded White Hands, whose touch is fatal. But for her girlhood Otter doesn’t trouble herself too much with the dead. She has her friends. Kestrel will be a ranger and venture out into the forest, where Cricket will be a storyteller. Then the unthinkable happens, and Otter’s world starts to fall apart. Her mother is going mad, and the dead are walking . . .

This is a beautifully told story. From the beginning, the little details of character and setting evoke so much. Otter, Kestrel, and Cricket live in a very small village out on the edge of the world, and they very much expect to take a traditional place in village life. Despite the definite horror aspect, the story overall is a more sorrowful journey, threaded through with hope and joy. I love the indigenous American setting. I love how everything from food to clothes to homes to rituals is so clearly depicted.

And the characters are equally lovely. The friendship between Kestrel, Cricket, and Otter is strong and sweet, and it’s interesting how they continue to be friends through Kestrel and Cricket getting married. I loved that they were still living and working together, without any undertone of jealousy, or Otter trying to steal Cricket, yet Kestrel and Cricket are so much in love with each other. And I liked how Cricket could be gentle and strong. He’s not given a lot of credit, as a man with no magic in a world where the woman’s power to bind things with knots is paramount to keeping safe from the  ever-lurking dead, but he has his own kind of power.

Overall this is a somewhat slower-paced book, with elements of mystery, and an intriguing read. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

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