The Eye of the North, by Sinead O'Hart

Here's a fun action-packed fantasy for all you readers who want to hie yourselves away to Greenland to come face to beak (?) with a giant Kraken!  Emmeline, the young heroine of The Eye of the North, by Sinead O'Hart (Knopf, middle grade, August 2017), is the sort of child with ZERO interest in doing this.  She is paranoid, distrustful, and set in her ways, and most of this is a result of her booby-trapped (literally) childhood--her parents (when they weren't off having adventures) spent no effort on making her feel safe; indeed, the opposite is more like it.  So one day, when her parents are off somewhere, a letter arrives for her...and her first step is to check it for poison.

It's not poisoned, but it does bring the news that she is now an orphan, and must  immediately travel to France to stay with a woman she's never met. So she's bundled on to a ship, clutching her trusty satchel of things that might keep her safe.

She is not safe.  From the moment she steps onto the ship to the last few pages of the book, she joins the whole world in being threatened as all get out. The world was threatened first-the ice of Greenland is melting, and under the ice is a giant Broken of tremendous power, and whoever wakes the Kraken can gain control of it.  Emmeline gets personally threatened as a result of this--a bad guy thinks she has learned something from her parents (whose adventures took them on rather unusual excursions...) about Kraken control. She's kidnapped and hauled off the ship and taken off to Greenland.

But before she was kidnapped, she met a boy, who calls himself "Thing."  He throws his lot in with hers, partly at first because he's board, and partly, later on, because he's awfully lonely.  And though Thing can't, quite, save her from being kidnapped, when he himself leaves the ship  its in the company of a man and woman determined to stop the bad guy from awakening the Kraken.

So moving on more quickly, Thing and the two adults with  him are pursued, and they would be rescue attempt goes south, ending up with Thing flying off to Greenland in an airship he has no idea how to control.   Emmeline, well trained in escaping traps, does so to great effect, and heads out over the ice of Greenland, populated by magical creatures, to find her parents, who may still be alive.

And moving on even more quickly, because Too Much that's very exciting happens to tell it all, and it would spoil everything, there are other bad guys interested in the Kraken, including one magical villain, an evil ice queen..  Much foiling of bad guys is required, but Emmeline and Thing are up for the task and triumph.

So if you like excitements, you'll enjoy this lots.  As the adventure gets going, the story starts being told in the alternate viewpoints of Emmeline and Thing, layered on top of each other in the same chapter, which worked very well to keep the tension nicely ratcheted up.  My favorite part of the book, though, was Emmeline's ingenuity in the face of adversity; she wins this year's award for Foiling Villain with Pilfered Spoon. Thing is very appealing too; his backstory is a sad one, but he has come through it as a genuinely lovable character.  His bad asthma, something you don't see much in a mg fantasy novel, adds interest.

I wasn't quite convinced that I understood the actions of some of the bad guys; kidnapping Emmeline didn't seem to matter enough to have been worth the trouble of doing so.  But I was happy to go along for the ride.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher for Cybils Award consideration.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Free Blog Counter

Button styles