The Low Road (Elf Realm Series) by Daniel Kirk, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Low Road (Elf Realm Series)

The Low Road (Elf Realm Series)

4.4 10
by Daniel Kirk

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With The Low Road, Daniel Kirk has created a mystical world that will keep readers coming back for more.
When Matt and his family move to a new neighborhood, they don’t realize they’ve inadvertently stumbled into the middle of massive upheaval in the fairy world. With the elves’ territory disintegrating and dark factions looking


With The Low Road, Daniel Kirk has created a mystical world that will keep readers coming back for more.
When Matt and his family move to a new neighborhood, they don’t realize they’ve inadvertently stumbled into the middle of massive upheaval in the fairy world. With the elves’ territory disintegrating and dark factions looking to seize control, apprentice mage Tuava-Li must defend her way of life—even when that means cooperating with Matt, a human and a natural enemy, as he may just hold the key to saving the Elf Realm from certain destruction.

F&P level: Y
F&P genre: F

Editorial Reviews

Catherine McTamaney
Fourteen-year-old Matt McCormack doesn't know what he's getting into when he convinces his sister to explore their father's new real estate development. Trudging through the construction site, Matt cuts his foot on a tiny, silver shoe. What first appears to be a curious trinket left behind in the mud turns out to be a clue to another realm all around Matt and Becky. Matt inadvertently uncovers the elf realm, always present but rarely seen, and pulls his sister and himself into the middle of a battle between the magic worlds. Although Elf Realm offers a well-detailed imagining of an expansive fantasy world, its characters and storyline are far less developed. Matt seems at times as surly as the evil creatures he's trying to outwit. The human relationships are cold, challenging the reader's sympathy and attention. Reviewer: Catherine McTamaney
Publishers Weekly

In his debut novel, picture book author/artist Kirk (Library Mouse) delivers a complicated magical tale, the first installment of a projected trilogy. The veil between the elfin world and the human world has grown thin, and with humans cutting down forests to build houses and subdivisions, the elf community begins to lose its battle to keep its secrets. Two children, Matt and Becky-whose developer father is poised to destroy the trees that protect the elfin city of Alfheim from discovery-stumble upon a long-lost sacred wedding shoe that elfin royalty desperately wants back. The fate of the elves becomes intertwined with that of Becky and Matt, who must decide if they are willing to risk everything to save this magical realm. Without sacrificing plot for message, Kirk offers a subtle critique of the ways humanity mistreats the planet. His illustrations add an otherworldly beauty to what is otherwise a light, playful (if not a tad long) tale. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

Readers fond of elves, fairies, and trolls will enjoy this fantasy feast. When Jim McCormack takes his young daughter, Anna, on an early-morning hunting expedition in the nearby woods, he stumbles on a royal fairy wedding, and, aiming his gun at a deer, he accidentally kills the groom. This precipitates an already smoldering conflict between the human and fairy worlds, exacerbated when Jim's son grows up and begins cutting down trees to build a development in the fairy woods. When Jim's grandson, Matt, cuts his foot on an important fairy shoe, the two worlds collide. The action is fast paced, and the fragile line between fairy and human worlds is clearly drawn. Characterizations are well done. Young Anna becomes a kind of human sacrifice, kept prisoner for years by the fairies as punishment for the murder of the fairy prince. Stunning imagery paints a believable sylvan fairy world, eerily spooky and dangerous. Humor in the form of a troll named Agar whose lair is cluttered with hoarded treasures lightens the mood. Large, full-page black-and-white sketches of elves with huge eyes and pointed ears emphasize the haunted, otherworldly atmosphere. After reading this intriguing fantasy, readers will take a careful look around them while walking through the woods.-Quinby Frank, Green Acres School, Rockville, MD

Kirkus Reviews
A grim fantasy doorstopper uncomfortably juxtaposes gory adventure with New Age sermonettes. Matt-14, although appearing barely ten in his portrait-is unaware that the woods his father is bulldozing for development impinge upon Faerie and that his family has a tragic history with its denizens. His chance discovery of a doll-size shoe embroils the humans in the troubles of the elves, in which romantic plotting and political intrigue intertwine with impending environmental disaster. Kirk's Smurf-sized elves are an unchancy lot; while the villains are uniformly steeped in deceit, selfishness and violence, even the "enlightened" and "gentle" clans resort to theft, destruction and torture without compunction, despite their interminable ruminations on a vague eco-spirituality. The complicated hierarchy of the Elf Realm adds more confusion than depth or wonder, while the slightly creepy illustrations (mostly static headshots) illuminate little. After meandering for 400 pages, the narrative literally explodes into a barrage of grisly poisonings, suicide bombings, corrosive gas attacks and an apocalyptic inferno, resolving exactly zero of the plot lines and concluding with the most cliched of cliffhangers. Unpleasant. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
Elf Realm Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

One figure in a silver cloak and feathered headpiece stepped out of the group, looked up, and met his gaze. Matt turned away, but it was too late. He felt a presence in his mind, searching, commanding, “Give it back.” It was more than words he was hearing, it was as if an alien presence had entered his skull, its fingers weaving through his brain, prodding, trying to shape his actions. He had to get them to stop. Matt ran down the stairs, flung open the door, and stepped onto the porch.


There must have been a hundred of them standing in the grass. They stood shoulder to shoulder in a wide crescent at the edge of the yard. The image of them shimmered before Matt’s eyes. Not one appeared to be more than a couple of feet high. Where were his parents? Couldn’t they hear anything? Becky was looking out of the bedroom window, with her doll clutched in her arms and tears streaming down her face. “What are you?” Matt demanded. “What are you doing here? What do you want?”


“You have something that belongs to us,” came a high-pitched voice, from the one dressed in silver. “Give it back, and we will leave.”


“I haven’t got anything that belongs to you. Get off of our property, or I’ll wake up my dad.”


“Your father will not come,” said the female in the silver cloak. “Your family is sleeping very soundly tonight. We have made sure of that. Now give us what we ask for, and we will go.”

Meet the Author

Daniel Kirk has illustrated a number of popular and bestselling books for children, including Library Mouse, which Booklist praised in a starred review as a “show-stopper.” The Low Road, which received a starred review from Booklist, is his first novel; The High Road is his second. Daniel lives in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, with his wife and three children. Visit his Web site at

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