Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] real page-turner. Alexa, with her brains, courage and grit, proves to be an appealingly strong female hero and the story...is sure to engage reader interest....Here's a good high fantasy for the girls. Bravo!" Kirkus Reviews
"Readers will easily identify with intrepid Alex, who tells her own story, and her tale is simple and exciting enough to appeal to both the usual fantasy crowd and children who may not otherwise be genre readers." Booklist
"[An] entertaining, accessible fantasy....There's nothing very original about the novel's preindustrial setting or appealing characters....However, the story moves along at a fine clip, with plenty of suspense and action to hold readers' interest." School Library Journal
"[The book] will have wide appeal to younger YAs who enjoy strong heroines who are courageous and highly intelligent....The vocabulary is challenging, the puzzles intriguing, and Alexa is an admirable character." KLIATT
"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." Children's Literature
This extraordinary debut weaves magic and heroism into a classic tale of good and evil, and features an unforgettable heroine. Twelve-year-old Alexa Daley is spending another summer in the walled town of Bridewell. This year, she's determined to solve the mystery of what lies beyond the walls.
When she finds the key to a secret passageway leading out of the walled city of Bridewell, twelve-year-old Alexa realizes her lifelong wish to explore the mysterious forests and mountains that lie beyond the wall.
About the Author
The father of two young daughters, first-time author Patrick Carman had already built four successful businesses from the ground up before adding "novelist" to his resume. In fact, it wasn't until he began trading places once a week with his wife, so she could have a night out, and he took over reading to their daughters, that Carman began thinking about writing a novel. A Northwest native, he grew up in Salem, Oregon, and graduated from Willamette University with a degree in economics. Carman then spent a decade living in Portland, where he founded and ran his own advertising agency. After selling it in 1998, he created a series of popular board games, and founded and built MyWebPal.com into the third-largest provider of online newspaper publishing in the U.S. He also launched a fourth new business, Amped Radio (www.ampedradio.com), during the same time period that he was writing The Dark Hills Divide. Patrick Carman lives in Washington with his wife, Karen, and daughters, Reese and Sierra.