I am often drawn to books that offer a glimpse into some type of mythology. This is often true of Greek myth, and equally so of self created mythos. It's not all that often that I find a well done book that deals with Celtic myths, though.
In the case of Emily's House, we can narrow that category down to the myths of Ireland. I was instantly intrigued by the blend of this fascinating mythology combined with three young modern teens caught up in a thousand year old conflict.
I have a few bones to pick with Emily's House, but overall I found it a fun read with fascinating myth, a likable main character and a fun and interesting adventure. Want my full review? Read on...
The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Fourteen-year-old Emily Adams is flunking math - and life. But Emily has a secret that she has kept even from her best friends. Soon the ancient legacy coursing through her veins will force her secret to be revealed. Dormant for over a thousand years, an evil has arisen and this time, it will destroy anyone - or anything - that stands in its way. Three teens embark on a dangerous journey and risk everything. For Emily, the fate of her friends - and her world - lies in her hands. Travel with Emily as she unlocks the secrets of her Celtic ancestors as she goes on a mystical journey to the inner house and beyond.
The mythology aspect of Emily's House did not disappoint. I was delighted to read about creatures that I was familiar with, such as dark and light fae, as well as creatures I was not so well acquainted with, such as the thousand year old warrior Madam Wong. The various aspects of the mythology used in the book color and fabric every aspect of it. They weave into the overall narrative like a fine braid, enriching what is already a very interesting story.
I felt that the way that the plot was told could be a little overwhelming at times. I think Natalie did the right thing breaking her book into parts, but when the story was being told to Emily, Fanny and Jake in the treehouse, I lost track of the narration and for a brief time had trouble remembering these three. It was an interesting tale, but ultimately a very long and richly done flashback. Was it important to the story? Yes. But the way that it was handled was a bit confusing for me.
I also had a little bit of trouble suspending disbelief about how these three got from where they were over to Ireland. I understand this is a rather small thing in the grand scheme of the novel, but it really bugged me. Perhaps, with regard to this at least, I was just a little too old? Not sure, but I wanted to be sure to point it out in the sake of honesty.
Emily was a fun and likable heroine. She had a lot of spirit, yet still managed to maintain a certain level of vulnerability -- such as when they got to Ireland and she was unsure what they should be doing -- that made her relatable. I felt deeply sorry for her with regard to her family situation, but this darker spot in her life made watching her succeed in her quest, and its varying challenges, feel all the more rewarding.
Although they were really minor characters, since they were from the flashback, I felt a certain level of connection and kinship with Soarla and Cathair. I don't have a ton to say about them, but I felt that they were brave and noble, and my heart went out to them in regard to their situation.
My only real issue with the characterization in Emily's House was that I felt the bad guys, whether they were the more mythical variety like Dughall or the more mundane type like Muriel, felt a bit Snidley Whiplash to me. They were flat. They did not express an array of emotions and I did not find any reason to feel sympathy or even pity for them. They were just ... bad. This probably isn't a huge issue considering the age group this book is meant for, but I tend to like a few more shades of gray in my villains, personally. To each their own, though.
I've given some praise and some complaints here, but overall Emily's House is an interesting tale of one girl's journey -- with a little help from her friends -- to save the world. It's a fun, fast paced read that will likely hold your attention as long as you are patient enough to get past part one with it's massive (albeit interesting!) flashback. Recommended for fans of fantasy and mythology.