The Dark Hills Divide (The Land of Elyon Series #1)

The Dark Hills Divide (The Land of Elyon Series #1)

4.4 125
by Patrick Carman

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An extraordinary debut weaving magic and heroism into a classic tale of good and evil, featuring a heroine you'll never forget. Inquisitive twelve-year-old Alexa Daley is spending another summer in the walled town of Bridewell. This year, she is set on solving the mystery of what lies beyond the walls. Legend says the walls were built to keep out an unnamed evil… See more details below


An extraordinary debut weaving magic and heroism into a classic tale of good and evil, featuring a heroine you'll never forget. Inquisitive twelve-year-old Alexa Daley is spending another summer in the walled town of Bridewell. This year, she is set on solving the mystery of what lies beyond the walls. Legend says the walls were built to keep out an unnamed evil that lurks in the forests and The Dark Hills. But what exactly is it that the townspeople are so afraid of? As Alexa begins to unravel the truth, pushing beyond the protective barrier she's lived behind all her life, she discovers a strange and ancient enchantment -- and exposes a danger that could destroy everything she holds dear.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Alexa, who is short and skinny with knobby knees, is well-endowed with intelligence and bravery. Those qualities, combined with her infinite curiosity, lead her into danger, but may not be enough to keep her safe. She lives in a walled world. Not only do the towns have high walls that obscure views of the world beyond, even the roadways connecting towns are walled. Walls make many residents feel safe and content, but Alexa is driven to discover what is beyond. She faces seemingly insurmountable challenges as she follows clues to explore outside the boundaries. Her perilous quest leads her through dark passages where she meets unusual allies and learns to talk to the animals who guide her. Then she uncovers an imminent danger that threatens her whole world. She learns a traitor lurks within her close community, so does not know who she can trust to help her save her homeland. This first book in the "Land of Elyon" series has a satisfying conclusion with enough threads remaining loose that the reader will look forward to future installments. 2005, Orchard Books, Ages 8 to 13.
—Janet Crane Barley
Patrick Carman's The Dark Hills Divide is Book 1 in a series of fantasy books from The Land of Elyon collection. While the book gets off to somewhat of a slow start, the reader soon becomes involved in the mystery surrounding the walls of Bridewell and the heroic young lady, Alexa, who will one day assume her place as one of the co-rulers of the kingdom. Led by her new friend Yipes, Alexa travels territory unknown even to adults, bravely facing dangers in order to save the kingdom. 2005, Orchard Books, 251 pp., Ages young adult.
—Karen Ford
First released as a self-published book, written by a father for his daughters, this fantasy, the first in a trilogy, has enjoyed popularity in the Northwest and has now been picked up by a major publisher for national distribution. It will have wide appeal to younger YAs who enjoy strong heroines who are courageous and highly intelligent. Alexa lives in a society carefully explained by Carman, who includes a map that helps the reader. The major features of her land are high walls around the cities and even along the roads that connect cities—and the claustrophobic nature of these walls. Alexa's curiosity drives her outside the walls, where she encounters a strange pulsating stone that enables her to speak to animals, who tell her of the threat to her people. She must return home, try to determine the spy in her community, and somehow save her culture from catastrophe. The most endearing parts of the story are the relationships Alexa forms with animals who help her: Murphy the squirrel, Darius the wolf, Ander the grizzly. The vocabulary is challenging, the puzzles intriguing, and Alexa is an admirable character. (The Land of Elyon, Book 1). KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2005, Scholastic, Orchard, 251p. map., Ages 12 to 15.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-A mythical kingdom consisting of several walled cities and their access roads forms the backdrop for this initial title in a series by Patrick Carman. Alexa Daley, age 12, is visiting one of the towns with her father for a summer conclave of leaders. While walking with one of the eldest leaders, famous for erecting the walls to protect the region from outside threats, he dies mysteriously. Curious about what lies beyond the walls and unsatisfied with the explanations of why the wall is needed, Alexa takes a silver key from his hand, feeling sure he intended her to find it. Narrator Aasne Vigesaa clearly portrays Alexa's thoughtful, inquisitive nature and unsettled feelings that all is not well in her enclave. The fantasy develops as Alexa meets and learns to communicate with intelligent animals and a tiny man. The threats to her community's way of life develop dramatically as she must find the traitor in their midst and guard against the outside forces. Vigesaa's excellent use of pace, pitch, and tone help differentiate each character, including the talking animals. The CDs use a disk number and musical starting cue as well as a repetition of the last line from the previous disk to help listeners keep track of their place. This fantasy will appeal to middle school students and fans of Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thomas Warvold, founder of the land of Elyon, constructed walls around its four towns, ensuring, so he thought, his people's safety from the dangers in the surrounding countryside. Even before his sudden, mysterious death, Warvold chose 12-year-old Alexa Daley to succeed him. Driven by her curiosity about the world outside, Alexa finds a tunnel that leads her to the woodlands. There, with the help of the forest-dwellers, she passes three trials and garners information and allies to save her country. After a slow introduction, the plot takes off, and the book becomes a real page-turner. Alexa, with her brains, courage and grit, proves to be an appealingly strong female hero and the story, enriched by folkloric traditions and a solid mystery, is sure to engage reader interest. The resolution provides a satisfactory ending, but there are plenty of loose ends to be tied up in the second and third volumes of the trilogy. Here's a good high fantasy for the girls. Bravo! (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Land of Elyon Series , #1
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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