Review: The Eye of the North

The Eye of the North holds a special place in my heart as it is the book that I can wholeheartedly say re-awakened my love of reading which has had such a positive effect on my life in so many ways.  I very rarely find time to re-read books as I have so many on my reading shelves, but this one kept calling me back, so I recently treated myself to a re-read, and I’m so glad that I did! 

This is a brilliantly fast-paced, thrilling adventure that truly deserves the plaudit of ‘unputdownable’.  It opens with the best line ever:

For as long as she could remember, Emmeline Widget had been sure her parents were trying to kill her.

and transported me into the most gripping adventure, brimming with twists and turns, with danger and daring, and with breath-taking revelations. 

Emmeline Widget (perfectly named!) is always prepared for mishaps with her trusty satchel of gadgets by her side.  Unlike her zoologist parents, who are seldom at home, ever-cautious Emmeline prefers to spend time indoors with her books.  And then … a letter arrives from her mother, informing her that she may well be an orphan, and leaving instructions for her to travel to Paris to live with a Madame Blancheflour, someone who is a stranger to Emmeline.

Once onboard the ship taking her to a new life, Emmeline meets Thing, a grubby stowaway who seems keen to befriend her and introduce her to some adventurin’.  Trouble soon finds them when they discover men searching Emmeline’s cabin.  This leads to a tense chase and an attempted rescue, but then Emmeline is separated from Thing and taken by the sinister Dr Siegfried Bauer.  He is taking her to a frozen land where he intends to awaken a mythical monster, but he is not the only one intent on waking the creature.  Can Thing find Emmeline and help her save the world from a terrible fate? 

I was swept into a storm of reading rapture as I devoured this incredible story:  the tension and excitement were palpable as I raced through the short chapters (perfect for a class read-aloud and I’m certain any class will be begging for just another chapter).  The villains are deliciously and fascinatingly dark; the elements of mythology are enthralling; and the icy, frozen world portrayed is magical.  I also really enjoyed the amalgamation of steampunk vibes, the natural environment and the fantastical elements which worked together in perfect unison.  Whilst this is a fantasy adventure, environmental messages are interwoven perfectly. 

Emmeline and Thing are wonderfully likeable and endearing characters, and I adored both of them.  Emmeline feels safe with her satchel and its gadgets, enjoys reading and spends a lot of her time on her own.  She is also clever, resourceful and stronger than she thinks.  Thing is impetuous, a risk-taker and seeks excitement. There are also glimpses that he has suffered in his past which made my heart ache for him.  Together, they form a wonderful bond of friendship based on kindness, support and looking out for each other.  These two are incredibly courageous, tenacious and face their fears head-on.

The Eye of the North is a heart-pounding rollercoaster of an adventure:   exhilarating, action-packed and completely and utterly fantastic. I cannot recommend this one highly enough.  I am now ridiculously excited to read the prequel, Skyborn.

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