Title: Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep
Author: Liz Kessler
Series: Emily Windsnap
Publication date: April 2007 (first published in 2004)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Fantasy, children’s, middle grade
An enchanting tale with a fabulous monster, engaging characters, plenty of mermaid magic, and a page-turning story, Liz Kessler’s new middle-grade fantasy has all the charm and warmth of its predecessor, THE TAIL OF EMILY WINDSNAP.
Picture an island set in a glittering blue sea, sparkling with white sand and palm trees, a secret place where humans and merfolk live together and where a girl who grows a mermaid’s tail when she enters the water is not considered a problem. To Emily Windsnap – half mermaid, half human – her new home is perfect. That is, until Emily ruins everything by waking a legendary sea monster known as the Kraken from its hundred-year sleep. As the Kraken rises from the deep, putting the future of the islanders in jeopardy, Emily makes a desperate attempt to save them. But how could she have dreamed that her best friend, Shona, would stop talking to her, or that Mandy Rushton, her old enemy from junior high, would turn up when least expected?
After Emily and Shona accidentally awaken the Kraken before its time, they have to get past their differences and put it back to sleep before it escapes.
I was less than impressed by the first book, I didn’t feel the same excitement as I did back when I was 12, but I recognised the appeal. However, the second book was much better as we finally got to see some character development on Emily’s side. There’s a clear contrast in how she behaves here when compared to the first book, with acceptance being one of the main themes in this book. It’s interesting to see how Emily handles being alienated from her friends after she tried so hard to please them, and it was lovely to see her accept herself as she is, instead of trying hard to fit in one world or the other.
Speaking of that, Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep delves deeper into the mer-world, exposing the rules and limitations.Even if it doesn’t go very far, I appreciated getting a rudimentary image of what it’s supposed to be, especially since the first book barely touches on it. While the world-building leaves something to be desired, it was enough to compliment the story and more than enough for a book only 240 pages long. One major issue I had with Allpoints Island is the fact that Emily is the only one to be half and half. It doesn’t seem probable that, in the time the community has existed, there would be no intermingling between humans and merpeople. Why not just keep them apart in that case?
Finally, I think Mandy’s POV was a fantastic addition to the story (I’m a sucker for POVs of seemingly unrelated characters that converge for one big event) and, I have to be honest, she was my favourite character here. I liked her more than I liked Emily, because her backstory made her character very relatable, while Emily has always been rather bland (I’m starting to realise I have a thing for emotionally complex characters, especially ones that have been hurt. I should look into that…). It was fantastic to see both of them grow so much in the span of 200 pages, and I was delighted by how well done that aspect of the novel is.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who’s interested in middle-grade fantasy books; even those who haven’t read the first book could easily pick this up for a quick and light-hearted read.