Book Review: "Emily Windsnap: A Tangle of Tails" by Liz Kessler

Updated on September 1, 2019
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Adele Cosgrove-Bray is a writer, poet, and artist who lives on the Wirral peninsula in England.

5 stars for Emily Windsnap: A Tangle of Tails by Liz Kessler

What's it About?

A Tangle of Tails brings together the first three Emily Windsnap novels in one omnibus edition. These are: The Tail of Emily Windsnap; Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep; and Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist.

When we first meet Emily, she is twelve years old and living on an old boat with her mother, who is terrified of water. Only after her fully-human mother lets her take swimming lessons does Emily make the shocking discovery of her dual identity as part-human, part-mermaid.

Emily's discovery leads her to meet other mermaids and mermen, and she starts learning about a whole new secret world beneath the ocean waves, a world ruled by a rather bad-tempered King Neptune.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap, deals with her new life as a mermaid. She explores the underwater world from a whole new perspective, and discovers that there is much more to her father's disappearance than she has always been told.

In Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep she incurs King Neptune's wrath by waking his pet kraken which promptly goes on a destructive rampage. Can young Emily save Allpoints Island and its mer and human inhabitants from ruin without getting herself killed?

On a school trip, Emily find a pretty ring which once again invites Neptune's fury. Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist has our mermaid heroine trying to unravel the mystery of an ages-old romance.

Meet Emily Windsnap!

About the Author

Liz Kessler had a poem published in her local newspaper when she was just nine years old.

She grew up in Southport, England, and also spent time in Manchester before reading English at Loughborough University in Leicestershire. After taking a teaching qualification at Keele University, she then took her MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Kessler has taught English and Media Studies, has run creative writing courses, and has worked as a freelance journalist.

Kessler lived on a narrowboat for around ten years, before travelling round Europe in a campervan for one year. She now lives in the lovely seaside town of St Ives, in Cornwall.

Kessler has written over twenty novels for children and young adults, including the (to date) eight Emily Windsnap books and her Phillipa Fisher series.

What's to Like?

The stories are aimed at young children but I, despite being middle-aged, found myself happily engrossed, eagerly turning pages to discover what happens next.

The pace is quick, the characters are varied and well-rounded, and each story is complete in itself.

There's nothing here for the parents of young children to object to their child reading about. There is no mention of sexual activity, and any violence is described simply and without graphic detail. In fact, many kids might want a bit more gore!

Kessler has created a lively and imaginative underwater world which is populated by friends and enemies, the nice and the not-so-nice, and ruled over by a bad-tempered Neptune who really needs bringing down a peg or two - a job for which Emily seems perfect, even though that was never her intention!

A fun read, which I recommend for children, (of all ages!).

What's Not to Like?

Emily only discovers that her ordinary human legs shapeshift into a mermaid's tail when she has her first swimming lesson. This was the first time in her entire life that she had ever been immersed in water. She'd never had a bath, only showers, and so her tail remained a secret.

She never had a bath, even as a baby? How many babies are ever washed only in a shower?

The mermaids chat to each other while they are swimming underwater. Surely all they'd be able to manage would be gurgling sounds? Speech requires air to pass through the vocal chords; when underwater, that would be tricky.

Okay, it's written for little kids and I'm nitpicking here.

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