Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
(The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson #1)
Also known as “A Most Improper Magick”
Atheneum, 304 pages
Twelve-year-old Kat Stephenson may be the despair of her social-climbing Step-Mama, but she was born to be a magical Guardian and protector of Society–if she can ever find true acceptance in the secret Order that expelled her own mother. She’s ready to turn the hidebound Order of the Guardians inside-out, whether the older members like it or not. And in a society where magic is the greatest scandal of all, Kat is determined to use all her powers to help her three older siblings–saintly Elissa, practicing-witch Angeline, and hopelessly foolish Charles–find their own true loves, even if she has to turn highwayman, battle wild magic, and confront real ghosts along the way!
Truth be told, I picked up Kat, Incorrigible from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab not because of the blurb but because I thought the cover was utterly charming. The girl’s mischievous smile is enough to make me curious about this book, so I picked it up from the selection, excited to know what really made Kat incorrigible.
Katherine is the youngest Stephenson family, and she’s also the least ladylike of all the Stephenson sisters, much to the despair of her stepmother. Her biological mother passed away shortly after Kat was born, and she has never agreed with what her stepmother wanted for her, which earns her not only her lectures but also her sisters, Elissa and Angeline. When Kat hears that Elissa is set to marry the horrible sounding Mr. Neville, she cuts her hair short and plans to run away to save her sister, but not before she gets caught. She thought it was kind of strange that her sister Angeline would practice witchcraft from their mother’s magic books, but she was in for a surprise when she finds out that she is her mother’s successor as a Guardian in the Order, with magic more powerful than her sister, if harnessed and trained properly.
I’m the youngest in the family, but seeing that there’s only two of us, there isn’t much mischief I could get into. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not really a kid full of mischief — I’m really the nicer kid at home. Okay, I’m not the most proper kid and God knows how many times my mom and I argued about the mess of my room, but I’d like to think I’m a pretty good kid.
Now, Kat is far more mischievous than I was obviously, and even if she had the best intentions, it doesn’t always guarantee that things will go smoothly or as planned. Kat is such a fun heroine that I keep on forgetting that this novel is partly historical. She reminds me of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, with a hint of magic. Kat’s voice is clear and easy to relate with despite her age. Kat really and truly loved her family, and that’s a characteristic that would make anyone love her too. Kat’s sisters are a hoot, too, and I liked how even if they were supposed to be “proper ladies”, they were still funny and quirky in their own way. I especially liked how Elissa started acting out like the heroines in her gothic novels and how Angeline and Kat made fun of her because of that. I never had sisters, so I can only read about these relationships, but I think the author totally nailed their sisterhood.
The plot is fun and adventurous, and like the characters, it made me forget that this is partly historical. It wasn’t as gripping as I’d thought it would be, but that doesn’t mean the plot is bad or boring. It’s quite the opposite, really — although sometimes it may seem a little bit too outrageous already. Despite its magical elements, I liked how there is more stress on family and love prevailing over evil forces than just plain magic. This gives the story a bit more depth and it definitely made the ending so much more satisfying. I think this is a very good start to a series, and it’s a fun read for kids the same age as Kat, or people who sometimes wish to be kids again, like me. :)
Kat, Incorrigible was also published as A Most Improper Magick by Templar Publishing last August 2010. This edition will be out April 5, 2011 under Atheneum. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the e-galley!
My copy: e-galley from Simon & Schuster‘s Galley Grab
Cover & Blurb: Goodreads