Title: Kat, Incorrigible
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Imagine Ramona Quimby dropped into the world of Jane Austen and add a touch of magic. The result is the charming, and funny, Kat, Incorrigible. Katherine “Kat” Stephenson is learning, to her own amazement, that she’s inherited her mother’s magical talents. Her mother, a known witch, caused quite a scandal in her life, but died just after Kat was born.
To avoid the family’s impending social and economic ruin (thanks to Mama’s scandalous practice of witchcraft and brother Charles’s gambling debts), Stepmama makes it clear there is only one way for the Stephenson girls to survive: Elissa, the eldest, must marry quickly and marry well. The intended suitor, Sir Neville, is a much older and wealthy man who is rumored to have killed his last wife. Stepmama takes the girls along to her cousin’s house for introductions and balls.
Just before departing, Kat sneaks into the cabinet that holds her late mother’s belongings and finds a golden mirror that transports her to an equally golden hall where strangers tell her of a magical society of Guardians her mother was a part of before being expelled for practicing witchcraft. The society would now like Kat, as her mother’s magical heiress, to join them. Determined to be a good girl and not get into trouble as usual, Kat tries her best to ignore the pull of the mirror and magic, even after the arrival of her proposed magical tutor, Mr. Gregson. To her credit, she does last quite a while.
The beauty of this story lies largely in the Stephenson girls. Each girl is in sharp contrast to her sisters. Elissa is determined to do what’s right for her family, always proper, and has a slight obsession with tragic gothic novels. Angeline, the middle daughter, is sharp-witted, opinionated, and less concerned with societal standards. She also happens to be a secretly-practicing witch. Kat, our beloved young heroine, constantly finds herself in troublesome situations in spite of her best attempts at proper behavior. The girls share a bond of friendship as well as sisterhood, and their bond ultimately becomes a pivotal factor in their quest to keep their family together.
Loveable, enchanting, and altogether memorable, Kat, Incorrigible will have parents and children laughing. When I was a child, this is the type of delightful and exciting adventure that would have had me up all night with a flashlight under the covers.
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