cover image The Golden Door

The Golden Door

Emily Rodda. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-545-42990-0

Mining folktale tropes, veteran Australian author Rodda (the Deltora Quest series) opens her Three Doors trilogy with promising urgency and a twist of historical consciousness. The enclave of Weld, surrounded by a wall with no opening, is under attack from above. Man-eating “skimmers” fly over the city on warm summer nights, swarming wherever there is light or sound. The autocratic government calls for volunteers to find and destroy the source of the scourge, revealing that there is, after all, a way out of the city. Sixteen-year-old Rye’s older brothers, Dirk and Sholto, volunteer and vanish, presumed dead. After a foolish error by Rye impoverishes the family, he sneaks away to volunteer, facing the choice of the three magical doors and the challenges beyond. Are Rye’s brothers really dead? Can the skimmers be stopped? And would anyone really want the promised reward: the Warden of Weld’s spoiled daughter? Rodda avoids two-dimensional stereotypes entirely: while the brothers’ roles are traditional, each is appealingly human. Rye goes questing, not because he has a high destiny, but because he loves and misses his family. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)