Book Review: Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

6609744Title: Kat, Incorrigible
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Witches, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 304
Publication Date: April 5th 2011
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by the publisher.

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!

The thing that lured me into reading this novel was the cover. Don’t you just love it? It has this cartoony, childlike feel to it that reminded me a bit of The Sword in The Stone, the Disney movie about King Arthur and Merlin (especially the scene where Merlin made the tea cups and dishes float in the air, and then made them bounce and dance) and instantly made me want to read this book. I’m glad I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed Kat, Incorrigible.

Kat is a twelve-year old girl with a nice sense of humor but an unfortunate habit of always getting into trouble. With her two older sisters breathing down her neck, and her stepmother always poking her nose where it doesn’t belong, Kat often finds herself being lectured by either her siblings, or the aforementioned stepmother. Things aren’t looking up for Kat’s family, especially not since her oldest sister, Elissa, is to be married to a horrible man who supposedly killed his first wife. On top of that, her other sister Angelina, is messing with magic she doesn’t understand by practicing spells from her mother’s old spell books. Like that isn’t bad enough, Kat herself gets dragged down into a magic world during a nightly excursion, and barely escapes. But she does find some useful information: she is a Guardian, a talented magician. Now she must use her new-found powers to help her sisters, which leads to a lot of dreadful but hilarious situations.

I can’t remember the last time I had so much FUN reading a book. Kat, Incorrigible really is a hilarious book, but it also has a lot of action, adventures and interesting characters. While aimed at middle graders, I thoroughly enjoyed the humor and the storyline in this novel as well, and I’m pretty sure it will appeal to young adults and adults as well. Although the storyline is pretty balanced, with “the good guys” and “the bad guys” and it might be a bit predictable here and there, this is still one of the best MG fantasy books I’ve ever come across.

Although Kat herself encounters no love interests whatsoever in this book (which is a big yay for me, considering she’s only twelve, and not every heroine has to find herself a proper suitor), there was plenty of romance between Kat’s older sisters and their love interests. Kat was pretty much spending half her time playing matchmaker, and the other half trying to save both of her sisters from a horrible future. I liked these themes, and the cute and giggly undertone of the novel as Kat hopped from matchmaker duties to Guardian duties and sisterly affairs.

I also liked the fact that this book isn’t set entirely in some mystical made-up world, but actually is situated in our very own Regency England. Although there might be some time inconsistencies, and the way the characters talked wasn’t really what one would expect from proper ladies in Regency England, this didn’t bother me at all, especially not considering the fact it is a MG book, and that not everything has to be spot-on or historically correct to make a novel entertaining and amusing.

It surprised me a lot to see that practically all the characters in this book, even Charles, Kat’s always-absent but often-mentioned brother, have interesting and distinct personalities. I loved how Kat’s older sister, Elissa, seems like she just stepped out of a Jane Austen novel. A lot of the characters seemed like mismatched, or cynically-addressed Regency novels archetypes, and I had all the more fun reading about the madly in love student, or the mischevious highwayman who acted out of love. Of course, Kat was my favorite character. Wicked, clever, funny and witty, headstrong, stubborn and undeniably intelligent, she is a heroine I would like to see more of. She totally charmed me over, and if I had a kid sister anything like Kat, I would be terribly proud – and probably, terribly annoyed as well! She is exactly the kind of character ever reader has to root for, whether they want to, or not.

Stephanie Burgis’ writing style was very impressive, especially considering this is her debut novel. She describes places and scenes beautifully, but doesn’t spend too much time on the details, so there’s enough action to keep you turning page after page after page. The plot is full of twists, unexpected happenings and some more predictable occurences. It would be nearly impossible to get bored while reading this novel, because the storyline is so fast-paced, original and hilarious.

Picture a lighthearted, cheery and hilarious fantasy novel set in Regency England. Add sinister villains, doublecrossing magicians, love-struck older sisters, a stepmother deadset on climbing the society ladder and a total improper 12 year old girl with impressive magical powers, and you’ll get a nice idea of what Kat, Incorrigible is all about. Please come back soon, Kat, and entertain me some more with your hilarious adventures and your heartwarming and utterly charming attitude.


  1. This book WAS absolutely fun!

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