Beautifully written and gloriously imaginative, Sinead O'Hart's 'The Eye of the North' is fantastical storytelling at its most epic.
Emmeline's parents have mysteriously disappeared. To remain safe, she is whisked off to Paris on a ship where trouble is at every turn. Thankfully, Emmeline befriends a stowaway called Thing; a boy without parents too. Together they are thrown into a series of dangerous circumstances, which will lead both of them to the far north where the evil Dr Bauer prepares to summon an ancient, mythical creature from the deep.
'The Eye of the North' thrills and delights; twisting and turning with imaginative tentacles that grab hold of you and plunge you into adventurous waters. Each chapter ends on a cliffhangar, and the story shakes and twists and dives off in such unexpected ways. O'Hart weaves such an enjoyable yarn. There are, of course, obvious echoes of Phillip Pullman's 'Northern Lights'; an adventure to the north with supernatural creatures. But there is also so much that is surprisingly unique here. Firstly, the characters. Emmeline and Thing are one of my favourite pairings in any book. Thing is one of the best characters in children's fiction I have come across in a while. He's so charming and funny and vulnerable, and his voice is pure joy. I really would love another adventure with him. Secondly, there seems to be no bounds to O'Hart's imagination. She has a wonderful ability to stretch a story to its limits without it ever feeling as if it will snap; keeping the reader on edge at all times.
Some may balk at this book's length, but it is one to get completely immersed in. Sinead O'Hart is a terrific writer and a dreamweaver of a storyteller. I look forward to reading 'The Star Spun Web' soon!