The Dark Hills Divide

What started out as a bedtime story for his 2 young girls soon turned into a popular fantasy novel for children, grades 4-6. Not bad for this former web page and board game designer. I have to give Mr. Carman his “props” for such a wonderful accomplishment.

The Dark Hills Divide is the story of Alexa Daley, an independent, curious, and resourceful 12 year-old. Alexa has always had a curious nature, and spends most of her day alone, wandering about the walled city of Bridewell, a city protected from outside dangers by man-made walls. During one of her expeditions she finds a hidden door in the city’s library that leads her outside the walls to the mysterious land of Elyon, A little man named Yipes is waiting for her, and serves as her escort through the magical land. During her journey she finds a magic stone (Jocasta) that gives her a new power to talk with the animals. She learns from the animals the city of Bridewell is in danger, and thus embarks on a “quest” to save the city.

The narrative is descriptive, but the plot is shakey, and sometimes boring-but that probably only bothers me and not the average reader (8-10 year old girls). Some boys may like the story, but most won’t likely relate to the main character and will soon be looking for something else to read.

The only objection I have regarding the book is the protagonist’s nasty habit of lying. She’s always doing it, even though she knows it’s wrong. Characters that lie repeatedly are a big pet peeve of mine… that is unless the author is trying to show children the repercussions of lying, which doesn’t clearly seem to be the case here.

The Dark Hills Divide is book one of a trilogy, and if you decided to check it out, below is a “Land of Elyon” link.

Related website: http://scholastic.com/elyon/index_flash.htm?CFID=547750&CFTOKEN=78395546

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