THE DARK HILLS DIVIDE: The Land of Elyon, Book I

Patrick Carman, Author . Scholastic/Orchard $11.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-439-70093-1

In his debut fantasy, the launch of the Land of Elyon series, Carman crafts an intriguingly insular world, and introduces a plucky, convincingly curious heroine who yearns to see what lies outside of it. Alexa Daley, 12 years old, lives within the walled kingdom of Elyon with her father, the mayor of Lathbury, and his influential friends. As the story opens, readers learn through a flashback that Alexa was taking a walk with Warvold, the kingdom's architect, when he inexplicably died; she takes a key from the locket he wears, and returns home. While the adults grapple with the population problem within this confined space, Alexa follows her passion—to find "a way outside the wall"—and escapes, thanks to Warvold's key. Once outside, a two-foot-high man greets her and leads her on a quest through a seemingly enchanted land with talking animals. From them she learns that Warvold had selected her as "the chosen one," to complete a task he left unfinshed. The author slowly reveals how Warvold's internallized fears prompted him to build the wall, with all sorts of unforeseen ramifications. ("The monster is the wall itself," one animal tells her.) Carman dabbles in social commentary with his intimations of the perils of isolationism, but even more effectively plumbs the psychological reverberations of playing out one's fears. Readers of all ages will gain much from this tale and eagerly anticipate the next two planned volumes. Ages 8-13. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 02/21/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
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Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-439-79175-5
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Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59737-391-3
Compact Disc - 5 pages - 978-1-59737-393-7
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MP3 CD - 978-1-59737-395-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59737-392-0
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Hardcover - 315 pages - 978-0-7862-7752-0
Hardcover - 253 pages - 978-0-439-75843-7
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Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4176-9357-3
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Prebound-Glued - 253 pages - 978-0-606-15051-4
Hardcover - 229 pages - 978-0-439-95995-7
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