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

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

4.4 128
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


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

A 12-year-old girl learns of her magical destiny in Patrick Carman's first absorbing episode of the Land of Elyon trilogy. Originally self-published to local acclaim and now available on a national scale, Carman's The Dark Hills Divide introduces readers to Alexa Daley, who annually visits the town of Bridewell. Alexa is curious about what lies beyond the massive ramparts that surround the city and the walled roads that link Bridewell to nearby towns; soon after town leader Thomas Warvold passes away, Alexa's finds herself outside the walls, acquires a stone with remarkable powers, and discovers that she's meant to stop a potential war from occurring. Fortunately, Alexa has a number of allies, including a fierce wolf named Darius, and after she uses her smarts to prevent a ruthless convict from gaining power, the storm facing Bridewell is calmed, with a hint of what's to come in Book 2. Fantasy buffs looking for more in the vein of Cornelia Funke and Flavia Bujour's The Prophecy of the Stones will find Alexa Daley to be a stellar new heroine. Told from Alexa's matter-of-fact point of view, Carman's first book is one to savor, sewing together an involved yet non-intimidating plotline, fascinating characters, and strong cliff-hangers to deliver a series debut that will surely entertain boys and girls, young and old.
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)

Product Details

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

Meet the Author

Patrick Carman usually spends his time in Walla Walla, Washington. But in the spring of 2005 he’s taking his wife and two daughters on the road, traveling across the country on a whirlwind tour in support of his dazzling first novel, The Dark Hills Divide.

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The Dark Hills Divide (The Land of Elyon Series #1) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 128 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the two books I chose to read for the summer. At the beginning, I was very confused and didn't understand anything. But after a while, everything began to make sense. It's a great book if you're into magic, mysteries, and adventures. I am thinking about reading the second book and the rest of the series, since the ending left me hanging. This is a good book, give it a shot! =D
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Twelve-year-old Alexa Daley's summer trip to Bridewell with her father is something she's looked forward to. She can't wait to explore, and comes prepared to get a better look over the immense walls that have blocked her view of the forests and the Dark Hills all her life. She never dreamed her explorations would take her outside the walls and lead to a strange little man who guides her to an ancient enchantment. Through the power of the enchantment, Alexa learns of a deadly plot that threatens to destroy Bridewell. Alexa can't save Bridewell alone, but there's a traitor in their midst, and she's not sure who she can trust. Choosing the wrong allies could prove fatal. Carman has an amazing imagination, and his skill in crafting a story seems effortless. THE DARK HILLS DIVIDE, the first story in THE LAND OF ELYON series, is magical and draws the reader in with lovable characters, a mystery full of danger, and a setting that evokes the imagination. I first borrowed THE DARK HILLS DIVIDE from my local library several years ago. Picking up Alexa's story again was like reuniting with an old friend. I knew I had loved the book back then, but had forgotten how much. I can't wait to reacquaint myself with Alexa's next adventure in the second book, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THORNS.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book caught my eye and I read it in two days. I am definately buying the second one!!!!! It was a lot of clues and surprises, but always kept me wanting to read more! I absolutely loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The only reason i tried this book out was because one of my friends was reading it and i saw it at the book store. I decited to try it and i loved it and i ended up begging my dad to get the rest of the series. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome i totally want to read the second one
bookworm211 More than 1 year ago
loved the book but it had a few plotholes and repitition such as alexa finds yipes and yipes takes her to darius and darius takes her to malcolm and malcolm takes her to ander but it hardly affects the books quality. its well written and the characters are very well developed (i love the wolves). i was kinda unimpressed by the ending, though. her stone stops working and sebastien isn't her dad, which would be more dramatic. and i dont get why the cats have to get squashed. i love cats! overall i think that this is a wonderful book to read in your spare time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Dark Hills Divide was one of those rare books that my teacher had given to me at the start of middle school that I just didn't want to end, and when I finished it, I went looking for the next one almost immediately. I first read The Dark Hills Divide in sixth grade. It's not a hard book to read, but it's still fun and exciting. Now I'm in ninth grade, and I still love the book. I've read the series many times over and over again. I just never get sick of it. The Dark Hills Divide is about a little twelve-year-old girl who is ordinary beyond ordinary, and through her curiosity for the lurking world outside the three story walls that surround her home, she subconsciously weaves herself into a magical and passionate tale. I think the title is brilliant. In the beginning, the Dark Hills are part of the outside world that no one knows anything about and doesn't want to know, for that matter. But as Alexa journeys through them and experiences their power, something changes in the atmosphere. It's almost as if the Dark Hills lose their darkness in a sense. But don't let me spoil it. Read it! The Dark Hills Divide is a fiction book filled to the brim with talking animals, miniature humans, and criminal bandits that live underground. I'm sorry to say there aren't any pictures, but Patrick Carman does an outstanding job of creating images in your head. The book has a pretty amazing setting with maps for underground tunnels, above groun secret passages, and the library. To fully understand what's going on, you have to keep in mind where Alexa is at all times. Don't worry though. It's not that complicated once you start reading. If you like The Dark Hills Divide, you should also read the second and thrid books. The series has a fantastic ending. You may think that the first book is a little slow, but boy does it speed up. Or you may think that the first book is excellent, and then you'll be lost for words for the third book. I promise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book you should so buy it . Best book ever it is for kids that really like too read hard books. It startes out slow but it picks up very fast once you get into it .
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is junk! The entire book is merely an introduction for the second book. The author doesn't understand subtlty or the meaning of the phrase less is more. I found the characters unlikeable and underdeveloped, the setting shallow and cookiecutter-ish, and action completely missing. The focus in this series is on selling subsequent books not on story telling. All in all skip it. I wish I had.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much. I love that the animals can talk. The whole book is awsome.
theaterofthemind 8 months ago
The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman was the last audio book I listened to on my recent road trip. It was read by Aasne Vigesaa. More in my comfort zone, The Dark Hills Divide is a fantasy story set in the Land of Elyon, a land separated from the surrounding forests by high walls. Our heroine Alexa is a twelve year old who, of course, is not content to accept the admonition to avoid knowledge of the outside (if she did accept it we wouldn't have a story now would we). At the heart of the story The Dark Hills Divide is a mystery. Alexa does not know whom she can trust, and she has a lot to learn along the way. As a fantasy, there are magical and mythical components to the story. I would expect it is categorized as a middle grade story. The violence is not graphic, there is no sex, and no bad language. There is still evil, people get injured, and all is not as it seems. If forced to identify a shortcoming (negative is too strong in this instance) I think the character of Alexa is a little too advanced/mature for the age she is presented as. She is able to converse on an adult level with too much ease for a twelve year old in my humble opinion, but that is minor to the overall story. Of course as a middle grade fantasy/adventure, The Dark Hills Divide does carry a message or two, but I'll leave that discovery to you. The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman and read by Aasne Vigessa, is a good light middle grade read(or in my case listen). A great story for younger readers. Enjoy! Mike
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book has so many twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really slow and boring. It gets confusing at times too. Would not recomend unless you like mythical books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have reread this book about 5 times since I got it when it first came out and it never fails to caprure my attention This is my favorite book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good. My friend and i were reading it together and we couldn't figure out who sebastain was. This book is a very good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stupid book way confusing dont buy or read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this it is the best i have to read this book for school. That is the only reason i am reading this book if not i would not be soo i love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Havn't read it yet but it looks mind blowing !!
Whymsy More than 1 year ago
Where’s the Spark? This book was just below okay and rather disappointing for me. To be fair I will say that the concept was interesting and writing decent. True I was never quite sure what to make of Alexa, but she wasn’t the most immediate issue I faced while reading. The real problem was the missing spark of life. The point where the story went from something you read to a place you could occupy in your imagination. I never felt a compulsion to enter into the Land of Elyon. I found the lifelessness more sad than anything else (especially since writing a book is a lot of work). I have read books much more mundane in their concepts and the writing with a lot to wish for, but they had the life giving spark which made a world of difference.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I started this book I thought that it was a boring book, until I got to the part where she could talk to the animals! After that I could'nt put it down!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago