Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist

Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist

Liz Kessler
Illustrator:  Natacha Ledwidge 
Fiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
Candlewick, 2007   ISBN: 978-0763633301

For a while Emily Windsnap has dared to think that everything is going to be all right. Her parents have been allowed to live together again as man and wife; the family have moved to a terrific place where Emily and her father need not worry that they are going to be captured and locked up; and Emily is slowly learning what it means to be a mermaid. And yet now all is not well. Emily's parents are fighting and Emily worries that the gap between then – one being a human and one being a merperson – is just too big to cross.

Then things get infinitely worse. It all begins when Neptune announces that he needs his people to find the jewels that got misplaced during the kraken incident. Emily and her mermaid friend Shona team up to search, and Emily finds a ring with an enormous diamond in it. Emily soon learns that there is something very special about the ring. For one thing it won't come off her finger and if anyone tries to remove it something unfortunate happens to them. And for another, the ring seems to be able to communicate with her in some strange way.

Despite her efforts to keep her find hidden, Neptune discovers that Emily is wearing the ring and to say that he loses his temper is an understatement. In a fit of rage he curses Emily, telling her that she will no longer "be a semi-mer," she will be either a human or a mermaid, and she will not be allowed to choose which one she wants to be. Then Neptune whisks her far away from her home to a place where an eerie looking castle sits on a rock in the middle of the ocean. Emily's friends Shona and Millie are with her, but her parents are who knows where. When Emily begins to notice that her mermaid-ness is beginning to fade she really starts to despair. Is she going to lose her mermaid side forever and will she have to choose which parent she wants to be with?

In this third Emily Windsnap book Liz Kessler takes her half mermaid half human hero on a very exciting, and sometimes worrying, adventure. Told from Emily's point of view, the author captures what it is like to feel like an outsider. Poor Emily does not belong to either the human world or the ocean world, and this situation leads to a lot of heartache for her. This state of affairs is not unlike what many young people experience in school where they don't fit into any of the cliques and therefore feel lost and disconnected.

Young readers will immediately be able to identify with Emily who has a magical form of a very old problem. They will also appreciate that there are two things that can help to undo the damage done by hurt feelings, anger, and disappointment – and these are love and forgiveness.