Full disclosure: Neither of these books are ones that I would have ever picked up on my own. Both of them have elements that I normally stay well away from when looking for books to read (Middle Grade fiction for Kat, Incorrigible and an Australian author for Jellicoe Road). In the end, I think that was probably best for me, because it meant neither book had an early advantage.
Or at least, that was until I read Kat, Incorrigible. Four chapters in, and Jellicoe Road had no chance. The first things that come to mind when I think of Kat, Incorrigible are a whole lot of adjectives like adorable, precious, charming and fantastical. (Also, as an aside: the cover is really great. There are sparkles and a magic teapot!)
The short blurb for Kat, Incorrigible is that it’s a story about a girl who has magic abilities in Regency England. The long blurb is a little more complex. The story isn’t only about Kat and her discovery of her magic, although obviously that is a big part of the book. It’s about Kat and her sisters. It’s about Yorkshire. It’s about villains. All of these just add to the slightly twisted coming of age story here. It may be because I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but this felt like such a novel plot to me. Part of it is because Kat is so young, 12 rather than the 16 or 17 year old heroine that tends to be found in coming of age tales. The magic, too, adds a little hint of something extra to the story. Not only does Kat not know about her magic at the outset, she also has to have a crash course in mastering it pretty fast; all this leads to as faster building plot than is often seen in coming of age stories. On the surface, these are little details. But combined with everything else, it’s these little details that take a great book and make it magical.
I will admit I have one slight reservation about choosing Kat, Incorrigible over Jellicoe Road. Competitive and stubborn person that I am, I can’t help but think Jellicoe Road would be more competitive down the road. Because, as much as I loved Kat, Incorrigible, Jellicoe Road, on paper, has more marks in the plus column: it’s YA (which, for what it’s worth, I think a YA book will be the ultimate champion), it’s a unique story, the heroine is relatable, and the author is a fan favourite. I just never connected with it in the way I did with Kat, Incorrigible. That’s more a statement on how great I think Kat, Incorrigible is, rather than any negative thoughts about Jellicoe Road.
And that is the difference, and the reason Kat, Incorrigible has won my heart, and this round of the battle: Jellicoe Road might be good, but Kat, Incorrigible is magical.
Congratulations to Kat, Incorrigible, which moves on to Round 2!