Arthur A. Levine Books
Arthur A. Levine Books 

Sorrow's Knot Sorrow's Knot

Written by Erin Bow

From the acclaimed author of Plain Kate, a new novel about what lurks in the shadows, and how to put it to rest…

At the very edge of the world live the Shadowed People. And with them live the dead.

There, in the village of Westmost, Otter is born to power. She is the proud daughter of Willow, the greatest binder of the dead in generations. It will be Otter’s job someday to tie the knots of the ward, the only thing that keeps the living safe.

Kestrel is in training to be a ranger — one of the brave women who venture into the forest to gather whatever the Shadowed People can’t live without and to fight off whatever dark threat might slip through the ward’s defenses.

And Cricket wants to be a storyteller — already he shows the knack, the ear — and already he knows a few dangerous secrets. But something is very wrong at the edge of the world. Willow’s power seems to be turning inside out. The ward is in danger of falling. And lurking in the shadows, hungry, is a White Hand — the most dangerous of the dead, whose very touch means madness, and worse.

Suspenseful, eerie, and beautifully imagined.


“Grief beats at the heart of adolescence in this fantasy version of North America. For the free women of the forest, death is a complex, dangerous thing: The dead are bound, and some rise again as White Hands, whose touch brings madness and transformation. Bow’s lyrical writing, which beats like the storyteller’s drum Cricket and, later, Orca wield, tells a story both specific and timeless. The conflict between tradition and change, the tensions between mothers and daughters, and the journey west (itself both physical and metaphorical) all play a role. Within the grand thematic scope is a simpler story, reminiscent of the timeless hero’s journey: Otter, the binder’s daughter, untrained and called upon to face great threats, must use the tools of tradition and forbidden knowledge (a secret story echoes throughout the novel) to remake the world. Add to that epic scope two love stories, a genuine portrait of friendship, a nuanced exploration of loss and letting go, and a fine tracery of humor as well as plenty of tears, and you have a winner. A lovely gem, dark and quiet as the dead but glimmering with life as well. Not to be missed.” -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Bow displays the patient, rhythmic pace of a seasoned storyteller, and the spare elegance of her prose manages to inspire both chills and tears as the tale requires. Ruled by tradition and overshadowed by death, the snowed-in village of Westmost makes an evocative setting for three teens to wrestle with their fate, and the details of the vaguely North American, pre-industrial world are immersive without being overwhelming. The heart of this story, however, lies with Otter and her friends and their efforts to come to terms with the harsh realities of adulthood, the necessity of grief and mourning, and their realization that sometimes love does not translate into salvation. Dark but ultimately hopeful, this quiet fantasy will leave its mark on readers and have them contemplating shadows in a whole new way.” -- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

“Bow’s background in science is evident in her Northern American setting; everything from the botany to the zoology feels authentic. Her prose is painterly…. Readers will enjoy watching her discover that ‘the world was larger than we knew.’” -- Publishers Weekly

“This is an atmospheric, haunting tale of friendship, love, and loss, told in a unique voice evoking Native American lore and language, although the acknowledgments make it clear that the Shadow People are a mix of many indigenous cultures. Bow’s world building is rich and sometimes harsh, with details about ways of living, the natural world, and cultural norms. Although there are hints aplenty about how to unravel the deadly problem, Otter’s eventual understanding is well paced and allows readers to walk alongside her as she finds her way.” -- Booklist

“Readers of suspense will love the dark tension of the story line, an ebb and flow that carries through to the very end.” -- School Library Journal


A Kirkus Best Book of the Year
Winner of the 2014 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy


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Indie Bound

Fall 2013
ISBN: 978-0-545-16666-9
Price: $17.99/$19.99
Trim Size: 5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Page Count: 352
Foreign Rights: Pippin Properties
Translation Rights: Pippin Properties
Rights Available? yes


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