Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow

Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow is my first book of the new year.

Otter's mother Willow is a binder -- a woman who can tie powerful knots to keep away the hungry dead. Otter believes that she will someday become a binder, too -- until Tamarak, the old binder, dies. But on the day of Tamarak's death, Willow goes a little crazy. She pushes Otter out of the binder's lodge, claiming that she will never take Otter as an apprentice. Willow says that something is wrong with the knots. And then Willow does something else, something worse. . . .

I'm having a hard time summarizing this one, probably because it's a fairly complex concept. The setting has a sort of Native American feel, though the author doesn't identify Otter's people with any particular tribe, or even any easily recognizable location. There are creatures that are not quite ghosts and not quite zombies. It's quite different from anything I've read, including the author's earlier book, and it's very dark. Very, very dark. Unrelentingly dark. I am amazed it didn't give me nightmares. But the writing is very good, and I'm glad to have read it (though it's not a book I see myself ever rereading). If you like dark fantasy, bordering on horror, but written with a literary tone, I'd recommend this.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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