Sunday, March 31, 2019

KidLit Challenge - Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

Title: Kat, Incorrigible
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Age Range: 8-12 years
Publication Year: 2011
Length: 295 pages

Official Summary

Katherine Ann Stephenson has just discovered that she's inherited her mother's magical talents, and despite Stepmama's stern objections, she's determined to learn how to use them. 

But with her eldest sister Elissa's intended fianc√©, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat's magical potential; her other sister, Angeline, wreaking romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat's reckless heroism will be tested to the upmost. 

If she can learn to control her new powers, will Kat be able to rescue her family and win her sisters their true love?


Where in heavens' name do I start? 

Kat. That child has no more right being in a Regency novel than I would be in a psychedelic story from the 1960s. Why, oh why, do so many authors transplant the modern social mores into their historic literature? It never serves any purpose except to make me see red. I have no patience for such writers and so I'm afraid Stephanie Burgis was on shaky ground with me from the beginning. 

For someone who claims to love Regency England, she certainly disrespected every aspect of it that she could find in Kat, Incorrigible. Kat is the perfect, contemporary brat with no respect for her elders and no intention of ever acknowledging her failings. She'll be a charming little psychopath by the time she's 20. I'm stunned that neither of her sisters ever slapped her silly when she went off on one of her nasty little benders.

As for the rest of the characters, they at least fit into the concept of Regency England. All of the social graces are there, the propriety of character, all of those concepts are present in Kat's older sisters and the attendees of the house party. Frankly, if Kat hadn't been in the book at all, it would have been a much more enjoyable read instead of having to seethe my way through it.

I love the concept of writing Regency children's fiction since it broadens their horizons. But this is not the way to do it. If you're going to do Regency, do it right. Don't claim you love it by disrespecting every single aspect of the era from the courtship rituals to the expectations of society.

If I had a child, I would never permit them to read Kat, Incorrigible. It gives all the wrong impressions and would fill a child's head with nasty, rebellious ideas that are never apologized for and for which Kat is never held accountable. By the end, I pretty much loathed this book, which is a first for me since I love most KidLit.

To borrow a phrase from Emma's Mr. Knightley, "Badly done, Stephanie, badly done."