Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Emilie & the Hollow World

Emilie & the Hollow World by Martha Wells

My dad really enjoyed the Journey to the Center of the Earth film starring James Mason and Pat Boone so I watched it many (MANY) times as a child. I liked it - the idea of tunneling underground and finding a fantastical world, dangerous creatures, and lots of adventure. I just had one problem with it.

There was no girl character my age.

Blah, blah, social norms of the time, scandal, ruined future, blah, blah. I didn't care.

I largely still don't.

As I read Wells' Emilie & the Hollow World, I felt like my childhood fantasies had sprung to life. A strange world at the center of the earth? Check. Magic? Check. Fantastical beings and monsters? Check. A young, smart heroine? Check plus!

I was giddy with nostalgic joy. I wish I had this book when I was younger. I am buying the print version to go in my kids' library. I devoured this book and loved every second. I also obviously must read more books by Martha Wells.

Emilie has run away from home and is planning on stowing away on a ship so that she can try to start a new life at her cousin's school. Emilie's mother ran away and became an actress, but she and Emilie's father died, so our heroine was raised by her very disapproving uncle and aunt who believe Emilie is a ticking time bomb ready to become disreputable. Of course, things go awry and Emilie ends up stowing away on the wrong ship. It is under attack by nefarious types and soon is underway on a voyage to the center of the earth, with Emilie along for the ride. She meets and befriends new beings and an adventuress who leads the life Emilie dreams about, proves she has good instincts in a fight, is afraid but works through it, always keeps her head and is loyal throughout. This is a fast-paced book with lots of action and was just a lot of fun.

While I did draw some parallels between Verne's book and this one, Emilie is not a retelling of  Journey to the Center of the Earth. It is set in a unique world, with magic and airships, and while the adventurous spirit is there, they are different books.

Emilie is published by Strange Chemistry, Angry Robot's YA imprint. I also think that this book would be fine for younger, middle-grade and even some tween readers. There is some violence, but nothing gory. This is also another YA with no romance. There is a bit of flirting with the seeds planted for something perhaps in the future, but that is just a tiny aside, to be honest.

This book does work as a standalone, but I do hope that someday we will get Emilie's next adventure.

There is a Goodreads giveaway going on now for this book (ends February 28).

Emilie & the Hollow World will be released April 2, 2013.

Martha Wells:
On Twitter

Strange Chemistry:
On Twitter

[received an ARC to review]


  1. I recently reviwed & loved this book, too, though I never read Journey to the Center of the Earth. Not sure why, as I loved 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I am looking forward to/hoping for a sequel to Emilie's story though.

    p.s. great parenting :]

    1. Thanks! :)

      We are getting a sequel. Wells announced on Twitter it is going to be called Emilie and the Sky World. I think this means airships!!!

  2. My son just read this and loved it. Thanks for the rec!