Stephanie Burgis – Kat, Incorrigible
Length: 298 pages
Genre: Mid-grade Regency Fantasy
Started: 19 March 2011
Finished: 21 March 2011
Where did it come from? From the publishers for review.
Why do I have it? I like fantasies of manners, and the description sounded like fun.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 23 January 2011.
No proper lady
does magic, so it’s lucky
Kat’s anything but!
Summary: Miss Katherine Stephenson’s family teeters at the edge of respectable society, despite her stepmother’s best efforts to secure good marriages for Kat’s elder sisters. But Kat’s mother openly practiced magic, which is hardly an occupation of a lady of quality, and that scandal still clings to the family. What’s worse, Kat seems to have inherited her mother’s talent for magic, and now must use it to save her family. Her sister Angeline has been dabbling in love spells herself, with disastrous results, and her eldest sister Elissa is considering a match with the much-older Sir Neville, a wealthy widower whose first wife died under mysterious circumstances. Kat’s not trying to get in trouble, but somebody has to protect her sisters from their own decisions, and it looks like it’s all up to Kat.
Review: Kat, Incorrigible was a wonderfully charming little fantasy of manners, which is a subgenre that I enjoy more and more the more I read of it. This book felt like a combination of Magician’s Ward, Sorcery & Cecelia, and the Flavia de Luce books, although geared to a younger age set, and it was just as much fun as any of those. I hesitate to use the word “romp” for fear of cliche, but it really feels appropriate here; there’s plenty of sneaking around in crumbling abbeys and being threatened by highwaymen to go along with the period dresses and society etiquette and marriage negotiations. It was a little predictable in places, but overall, it was the perfect light-hearted read to improve my mood after a long day.
The book is being marketed as a mid-grade book, although I think that may be skewing a little young. There’s certainly nothing thematically inappropriate for mid-grade readers, but a lot of the charm of fantasy of manners books comes from being at least somewhat conversant with the conventions of Regency literature, which I don’t know that many mid-grade readers are. (I may be overgeneralizing based on my personal experience; I certainly wasn’t reading Austen or Heyer at that age, although it wouldn’t surprise me too much to hear that some girls are.) In any case, Kat, Incorrigible doesn’t have any of the stylistic issues that normally put me off mid-grade books, and I think it would appeal to YA readers as well. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: If you like fantasy of manners, this one’s a fun addition; if you like Regency novels but are not normally a fantasy reader, I think Kat, Incorrigible would be a light and easy introduction to the genre.
First Line: I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin.
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