The Really Short Version:TAGGLE!The Short Version:Basically, any book with an awesome cat in it needs to GET. ON. MY. SHELF. And the cat in Wood Angel [aka Plain Kate] is so awesome, he singlehandedly lead to the creation of a designated shelf for all such noble felines, which I am calling “Rad Catz”. The Long(er) Version:The sales assistant at the bookshop I loiter in frequent just about refused to let me leave without this book. Her love for it was palpable, she was holding it out to me like something precious. I wasn’t convinced. I’d seen this book on the shelf countless times, and the cover and title just say “fairy book” to me. Nothing personal against fairy books, they’re just not usually my thing. But I couldn’t refuse this lady, she was absolutely insistent that I had to read Wood Angel. (If she’d simply said the words “talking cat”, I probably would have wrestled the book right out of her hands and saved her some time. Oh well, she wasn’t to know.)Wood Angel is a lush and evocative story that reads more like dark folklore than sanitised fairytale. Plain Kate is an orphaned carver’s daughter who trades her shadow for the wish of her heart, not realising how costly the consequences will be. In a time of superstition and fear of witchcraft, the shadowless Kate becomes an outcast, inextricably caught up in the plans of a mysterious stranger. This is a beautifully written novel that deals with grief, family and sacrifice. It’s an intricately woven story – the plot threads comes together slowly in unexpected ways - and the final result is much deeper and more moving than I anticipated. Apparently unremarkable except for her skill in carving, Plain Kate is an exceptional heroine, strong in a broader sense of the word than the physical. With a keen sense of justice and loyalty, Kate makes a powerful contrast to the prejudice that surrounds her. A thematically rich story, it’s the motif of belonging that struck me the most, especially where it was demonstrated in the relationship between Kate and her cat, Taggle. More than merely adding an element of a quirk and humour to the story, the interactions between these two characters form the heart of the story. In the end, it was their connection that I felt was the most powerfully rendered, (and the one that made me nearly made me cry.) Also, it must be noted, Erin Bow clearly understands cats.