Emilie & the Hollow World is yet another great book from Strange Chemistry, a YA imprint which seems to be offering a varied selection of books and authors. Martha Wells is an established Fantasy writer, who has now started a YA series.
Whilst attempting to run away from home, Emilie finds herself on a ship – with a very unusual destination. As a protective bubble appears over the ship, it goes underwater, and then enters the ‘Hollow World’.. ie the world inside our own earth. She learns more about the machinery and magic which makes this possible, as well as the fight to control it and publish the knowledge.
Although we see very little of Emilie’s world, it has a Victorian feel when she talks about it, and it has a sense of Journey to the Centre of the Earth about it. The Hollow World obviously has a long history, with empty half-submerged cities, and I would have liked a little more of this history told. However, the focus is on Emilie’s adventures, as they discover a race of people who are divided and close to war, encounter strange and dangerous foes, all whilst trying to sort out their own differences, and return home.
Emilie herself is a great character, who develops and grows, whilst finding she’s stronger then she thought. She has a knack of getting on with everyone, and she makes some interesting new friends. I was pleased to see that she will be returning for a second adventure, in Emilie and the Sky World.
Emilie and the Hollow World is at it’s heart an adventure story, with a fast pace, and very readable. I was also pleasantly surprised to find there was no romantic twist, something which seems mandatory in YA. Due to its style, this would suit confident younger readers, as well as older teenagers. There’s also nothing stopping older readers enjoying it too, especially if you enjoy books to get lost in.
Published by Strange Chemistry April 2013