Precocious twelve-year-old Alexa Daley is the daughter of the mayor of another settlement. (view spoiler)The cats eventually get squished by a falling bookshelf.
I wasn't able to read this book every day like I usually do with novels, so for a long time I attributed my lack of interest in it's characters, and my confusion regarding the plot, to the fact that I wasn't able to keep the flow. Like I said, the beginning was intriguing, governmental type meeting, a suspicious death, a riddle, a walled city, and the world beyond that our twelve-year-old girl protagonist, Alexa, is very curious about. There are talking animals (a very entertaining squirrel included) who've been separated by the wall (quite sad, and again, Alexa must help), and there's a fantastic library, and of course, the enjoyment of trying to figure out who the spy is.
The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman brings us into the intriguing Land of Elyon, where we meet sweet Alexa Daley, who is quite smart and courageous. But upon old Warvold's sudden death, a chance is opened up to Alexa to explore deep mysteries and dark places. I think only two of my friends on Goodreads, (that I've noticed), have read this book. They had nothing but good to say about it; and after surveying the intriguing and utterly charming cover, I had to add this book to my to-read list. and decided to try out The Dark Hills Divide. But in this case, it all felt like Narnia "magic". Not really magic, just a world of things and possibilities you didn't think existed.** It seems there could be some allegories going on here. _ The Dark Hills Divide was written in first person, but had a little different feel than most books like that. *grins* I'm not sure if I'm explaining it right ... It has a classical feel and a heart-warming story that just makes you want to give it a squeeze and recommend to fellow book-lovers! *huggles book* Fans of The Chronicles of Narnia, you definitely must give The Dark Hills Divide a try. Also, those who like adventure and intriguing worlds beyond the normal, you'll probably love this tale!
I was in fourth grade when it first came out, living in the same town as Patrick Carman, and in that small community it was a big deal to have a local author, especially when he got picked up by Scholastic. My teacher actually read this book aloud to the class - though I think it was actually the independent edition, in which Chapter 18 includes a bizarre detour into the world of dentistry. Independently published, this book would be a solid entry on the low end of middle-grade age ranges, with an adventurous young heroine who (I can vouch from personal experience) young girls can get behind. It doesn't meet my standards as an adult reader, but it also doesn't bother me (even on a religious front - I'm an atheist and the book has some overtones of Christian allegory - nothing is pervasive enough to be a problem), and at the end of the day it's a fun adventure story that I know full well kids will enjoy.
The same is true of the land inside the walls, where we meet relatively few people (all of them seemingly old or middle-aged men--where are the women and children?) and get very little sense of culture. As mentioned above, there is little sense of danger or suspense for the first half of the book; the arduous journey/quest Alexa makes is mostly conveyed through telling us it's arduous and by describing her blisters.
But (a) the story in the book has nothing to do with the real Cabeza de Vaca, and (b) throughout, the main character calls him "Cabeza," as if that were his first name.
She had always wondered about what lies outside and her being close to Warvold, the founder of Bridewell and the greatest adventurer of all time, isn't helping at all.
The cover caught my attention and felt like a great story to read. She is an amazing character!
After college, I spent a decade living in Portland, Oregon where I worked in advertising, game design, and technology.