Kat, Incorrigible is written by Stephanie Burgis. It was published in 2011 by Atheneum.
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 fiancé, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat’s magical potential; her sister Angeline creating romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highway man 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?
Regency fantasy is fast becoming my new favorite thing. I absolutely adore Sorcery & Cecelia, and when I saw that this book, though for a younger audience, was also set in the Regency period, I knew I had to read it.
For the most part, I really enjoyed it. Kat, Incorrigible is fun, has a pretty complex plot, and the romance shenanigans (and sappiness) made me laugh in a good way. I loved when their stepmother at the end actually showed some family solidarity and stood up for the girls, and Frederick Carlyle was my favorite.
The one problem I had with the book is that Burgis seemed to be trying too hard to make Kat the typical spirited, rebellious protagonist and as a result I had a very hard time buying that this was actually the Regency period. Her antics just didn’t make sense, and the Hoorah, Girl Power! is laid on way too thick. I mean, that horse ride at the end with the cloak and pistols? Get real. I don’t know, Kat just seemed way too independent for a twelve-year-old in that period. She was a good protagonist most of the time, but there were times where I thought she was acting a little too ridiculously to be believable.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
“Don’t look to me for answers,” I said. “You’re the one coming up with wild ideas this time. Maybe it’s because you already miss Mr. Carlyle so much. Maybe the agony of loss is making your mind disordered…if it wasn’t already, that is.”
“Very amusing.” Angeline set the reticule back down on my green and yellow bedcovers. “So. You’ve already hidden it.” Her gaze crossed the small bedroom consideringly. “It certainly doesn’t smell like magic in here.”
I blinked at her. “Smell? What does magic smell like?” I had a sudden image of Angeline sniffing the air like a hunting spaniel, and I had to stifle a snort of laughter. Luckily, she didn’t notice.
Kat, Incorrigible is mostly fun, with just enough Regency flair to make me really enjoy it and a bit of romance for Kat’s older sisters to make me grin. Kat actually distracted from the story a little, simply because I thought Burgis was trying too hard to make her seem independent/spirited/whatever and a result the book seemed less Regency in some places.
You can buy this here: Kat, Incorrigible