Nineteenth-century England is not the place to be practicing magic. In this prim and proper world, twelve-year-old Katherine Ann Stephenson is at a loss: Her sisters, Elissa and Angeline, have recently entered Society and now gossip incessantly in whispers; her foolish brother, Charles, has gambled the family deep into debt; and Stepmama wants nothing to do with them at all. What can Kat do but take matters into her own hands?
Luckily Kat has inherited her mother's magical talents and has the courage to use them--if she can only learn how. But with her sister Elissa's intended fiance, the sinister Sir Nevile, showing a dangerous interest in Kat's magical potential; her sister Angeline creating romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat's reckless heroism will be tested to the utmost. Will her powers be enough to win her sisters their true loves?
I love Jane Austen, I love magic, and I love taking something familiar and twisting it so its new. Kat, Incorrigible has all these things! The preoccupation with love and marriage (especially for families in need of financial security) is the major theme of Austen's novels, and this carries into Burgis' story, with some awesome differences. 1) The main character is twelve, so she's not worried about marriage herself, but for her sisters. 2) The eldest sister feels obligated to marry a man to save her family from financial ruin, but he is mysteriously and likely evil! 3) Burgis totally makes fun of the romanticism, reveling in scenes of over-the-top gothic drama and magic spells to find true love gone awry.
I find this to be fantastic.
Kat is a wonderful main character, always sharp and ready for action. Her reaction to the highwayman (choose me to be your hostage!) made me laugh out loud. Because I would totally do the same. She doesn't get everything right, but she always has a plan. Her love for her sisters (and theirs for her) felt authentic--they all get frustrated with one another, but their loyalty and protectiveness always wins out.
There is a definite ending to the story (yay for no cliffhangers!), but the door is wide open for sequels, and I believe I've seen some advertising for the next of Kat's adventures. I'm very excited to learn about the world of Guardians, and I really want to meet her off-screen father. More, please!
Five out of five glowing hand mirrors.
Release Date: April 2011
Reading Level: Grade 4+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL BUR
Don't believe me? Check out these reviews of Kat, Incorrigible:
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile