Title: Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist
Author: Liz Kessler
Series: Emily Windsnap
Publication date: April 2007 (first published in 2006)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Length: 208 pages
Genre: Fantasy, children’s, middle grade
When Emily Windsnap discovers an old diamond ring during a class hunt for trinkets, how is she supposed to know that the ring is half the key to unlocking an ancient curse by Neptune himself? Now, with the ring stuck firmly on her hand, Emily finds herself under a new curse: in just a few days, she’ll cease to be half-human and half-mermaid and must say good-bye to one parent forever. Can she possibly find the other missing ring that will break all the curses? Is there anyone who can help her — before it’s too late?
My problem with these books is that everything happens very fast in a small amount of pages so it tends to feel rushed, there isn’t much character development, and I personally don’t get as attached to the characters as I’d like to, and Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist was no exception to this. While I liked the second book in the series a lot, this one didn’t particularly stand out for me since it was so similar to the first book in how the plot unfolded (which could’ve been intentional but would the target audience really notice?) :
- Emily inevitably kicks off the plot by doing something illegal in her world
- Emily decides she doesn’t need any help from older characters
- Emily meets a new character who becomes a permanent fixture later
- Emily pulls off a miracle
- Neptune forgives Emily’s transgressions because brings out his humanity (bad choice of words, I know)
- Everyone lives happily ever after
This dynamic isn’t limited to the plot as the characters are also rather static with Emily and Shona going off on their own without even notifying Millie, who obviously ends up worried sick when she can’t find them (can you tell I’m a bit miffed at this behaviour? Because I am). I felt like Aaron’s introduction was a breath of fresh air because he was an entirely new character, but he ultimately left no lasting impression on me.
(just like the romance aspect actually)
The book did have one redeeming quality however: it really showed how this new life impacted Emily’s family after their honeymoon phase in the second book. Emily’s parents are virtually stranger after 12 years apart and this is finally felt, while Emily prefers spending her time in the sea, where her mother can’t follow; understandably this is hard on her, and I wish there was a section devoted to how Emily’s parents coped with her latest adventure because that gap weakened the ending.
All in all, I found the book rather bland. While I would recommend it to its target audience, I don’t think it would hold the interest of older readers because of its incredible similarity to The Tail of Emily Windsnap.