While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.
Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.
With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again
This is a book I would be happy to give a teenager of any gender, with plenty of action and wonderful characters.
Review copy provided for free by Strange Chemistry through Netgalley
I liked this one a lot. It’s a pretty simple adventure story with a lot of action, but it really gets the high score for me from the characters. So often, YA has either very sarcastic, miserable main characters or main characters who are insipid and bland, but Emilie is neither of those things. She is a plucky young woman who opts to remove herself from a situation that is no longer tolerable for her (and she has fairly good reasons to leave, too, that are not completely over the top monstrousness) and who acts with bravery and loyalty throughout an adventure not of her own choosing. However, she isn’t unrealistically hard, she has moments of doubt and fear and grief, but she gets on and does the right thing regardless. I like her a lot.
The writing is pretty simple, but that’s fine. It tells the story well with no confusion, which is the minimum I require from prose. Yet again, this is a book where I’d have liked a little more flair in the writing, but I have no real complaints.
Something I did really enjoy were some little moments of subtle gender equality messages. Most of the stuff isn’t that subtle (Emilie constantly has to prove herself against those who think of her a certain way because she’s female) but there were a few little details that were more subtle that I loved.
A fun book with a decent bit of depth. I hope there will be more in the series.
Emilie and The Hollow World will be published in April.
- Martha Wells – Emilie and the Hollow World (sffbookreview.wordpress.com)