cover image The Door in the Forest

The Door in the Forest

Roderick Townley, Knopf, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-375-85601-3

In this moving fantasy, 14-year-old Daniel has lived his entire life in little Everwood, untouched by the violent Uncertainties terrorizing the cities. His world changes, however, with the arrivals of Emily Byrdsong, granddaughter of the local witch, and, later, the menacing Captain Sloper, who heads a small army. Despite its idyllic appearance, Everwood has a secret. In the nearby river is a mysterious, unreachable island, protected by deadly water snakes and quicksand; the last time someone tried to row there, "something ripped long gashes in the hull before it got halfway across." Emily, whose mother has been arrested in the Uncertainties, believes that she has heard her mother's voice calling from the island and becomes obsessed with reaching it. Sloper, thinking it hides a rebel weapons cache, becomes similarly obsessed. Daniel wants to reach the island simply because it's mysterious, but also because he's falling in love with Emily. When the children reach their goal, Townley (The Blue Shoe) provides revelations that are both comic and awesome. Reminiscent of the work of Diana Wynne Jones, this lovely tale should impress young readers. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)