Synopsis: In the world of SORROW’S KNOT, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry, something deadly. Most of the people of this world live on the sunlit, treeless prairies. But a few carve out an uneasy living in the forest towns, keeping the dead at bay with wards made from magically knotted cords. The women who tie these knots are called binders. And Otter’s mother, Willow, is one of the greatest binders her people have ever known.
But Willow does not wish for her daughter to lead the lonely, heavy life of a binder, so she chooses another as her apprentice. Otter is devastated by this choice, and what’s more, it leaves her untrained when the village falls under attack. In a moment of desperation, Otter casts her first ward, and the results are disastrous. But now Otter may be her people’s only hope against the shadows that threaten them. Will the challenge be too great for her? Or will she find a way to put the dead to rest once and for all?
Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for providing an advance copy of this book.
Reading Plain Kate earlier this year, I knew Erin Bow was an author to watch out for. Crafting deep worlds and strong characters having very intimate connections to their environments, I hoped that her second novel, Sorrow’s Knot would deliver in the same vein.
I wasn’t disappointed. While I felt like Sorrow’s Knot pacing was a touch all over the place, it weirdly didn’t effect my connection to the overall narrative Bow was trying to craft. A lot of this novel is very slow, deliberate, and methodical. There’s a lot of connections throughout the narrative, weaving together a lot of mystery elements. This is a book that is constantly building, never backtracking, so it’s one where you really have to pay close attention to make sure you know what is going on. Erin Bow also always has some of the most beautiful, if simplistic prose I’ve seen. It’s stunning without being convoluted, and she makes the story so engaging just by the strength in her style.
Sorrow’s Knot is very atmospheric. Bow does a great job of crafting the world and making it a vivid place to be pictured. She also gives us great characters who are easy to empathize with. I had to hold in a few tears because some of the death scenes are so bittersweet. This is a story of friendship and loss and Bow weaves these themes together with ease. It’s so easy to fall in love with the characters and understand their motivations within the context of the world.
I also loved the whole element of weaving knots and how it relates to life and death, but how it’s also a practice that the inhabitants of the world know is important but equally still fear it. The world building is just so stunning, and Bow makes it so easy for the reader to just cuddle into this dark world and view it from the inside-out.
While I do like Plain Kate a touch more, Sorrow’s Knot is a worthy second novel. Fans of strong world-building, unique magic systems, and great characters will easily love what the novel has to offer. I look forward to reading more of Bow’s work as it’s published, but the woman really has a gift for the written word.
River’s Review –