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. (goodreads.com)
Our February YAck book thanks to yours truly (and then voted on almost unanimously). I chose good. Because words. All the words. And the storytelling. And the characters. I did good.
I liked the storytelling in PLAIN KATE and I was so happy to see that not only did SORROW’S KNOT match that, it far surpassed it. The book is unique in that it’s a fantasy story set in only a slightly recognizable world but it’s also an old world story that could be pulled from native stories of people living in the here and now. That line is blurred. You want to associate the people in this world to something knowable and look at it as a kind of folk tale that has its roots in reality but at the same time it’s a fantasy world where the dead continue to live and people hold magic and protect villages from the dead. I love it. I constantly found my brain flipping between real historical folktale and entirely invented fantasy world and I think it made my reading experience so much better.
There’s a redundancy to the way the story is told and that method lends itself to a more oral storytelling tradition and further supports the feeling that this could be something the indigenous people have passed down across the generations. I found myself getting a little annoyed by it because at times it felt like filler but at the same time it only added to the storytelling. I’m walking back over my own feelings, I know. But that’s how it is with this one.
I didn’t feel wholly connected to any one character until Orca came onto the scene but I think that’s the storytelling. I remember feeling that way with PLAIN KATE too. The way in which the story is told lends itself to that distance and I can understand how people would feel disassociated from the characters but that doesn’t make them feel any less real. With Orca, because he was so different from the way things were in the village, he really seemed to pop once he made an appearance. Plus he was a take-no-crap character with a logical outlook on things and I really liked that about him.
I got a bit worried toward the end because I wasn’t sure how dark Bow was willing to go with it but I’m glad it ended the way it did. Traditions get broken and rewritten and someone just had to take that step to question the whys of things for it all to change. People get comfort from tradition and fear change but pain for the sake of tradition isn’t all that tolerable either and there are some who weren’t willing to just be okay with that.
The writing is gorgeous. I love Bow’s storytelling, I love her methods, I love her words. She makes the story feel timeless and lends it to you and tells you that it can be a piece of you if you just accept it. The stories she tells are timeless and transcendent and applicable to anyone. Like fairy tales but richer, deeper, broader. SORROW’S KNOT is one of those books that’ll keep speaking for years. It lives beyond trends and waves and will always be just a damn good book.