The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman - Review

The Dark Hills Divide

Patrick Carman
Published Date
Preceded By
Followed By
Beyond the Valley of Thorns


Alexa Dayley, a witty twelve-year-old, travels with her father through the walled-in paths to Bridewell, a city founded by an adventuring Warvold. But when Warvold dies, things start to spin out of control. Then, Alexa finds a secret passageway that goes under the walls and into the curious world surrounding. There, she is given a special power and the knowledge that she needs to save her beloved city.


I had no idea who the author was as I was reading. I looked at his website later and found out that he also authored Skeleton Creek. I had read those before, and if I had known, I think I would have had higher expectations for this book. That being said, it was a good, quick read.

Basically, it's a who-dun-it, but clues are subtle, if even given at all. I see it as more of a fantasy for middle-schoolers, or those on that reading level. Although, I think it could be enjoyable for anyone that likes fantasy. It's a good introduction for younger readers as it's not too long, but could have easily been another hundred pages more - the setting could have been further fleshed out.

In the author's note, it says it was written as a serial for Carman's children. In some places - especially the beginning - it reads as such. I also felt like some of the word choices that Carman made felt more like they belonged in a contemporary novel.

The epilogue, I almost felt, wasn't needed. I'm not sure if Carman planned to write a sequel after this one, but the ending made it feel like a stand-alone novel, which isn't a bad thing at all. It did feel a little flat, but it tied up some lose ends and explained a few more things.

While clues to who the bad-guy are, aren't very obvious, or given at all (I'm still not sure on that exactly, but I'd have to read it again knowing the answer to know for sure), I still felt a bit of thrill when Alexa figured it out, though I wasn't given the answer right away. 

I felt a connection to most of the characters used. I would love to get to know more of them in future books and plan to read on through them. 

Overall: I felt it was a good book, if a little difficult to get through. Certain actions seemed in-genuine from some characters, and that takes off some points. I did thoroughly enjoy this book, however, it's not one of my favorites... not yet, anyway. That kind of decision takes some stewing on. It's a good story and beautiful setting, but the writing isn't always smooth. It must be noted, however, that this was Carman's debut novel, and that might work itself out in later sequels.


P.S. I just have to mention how beautiful the cover is. I especially love the actual, physical, book. I have a hardback copy and there's no, annoying, dust jacket!