The Trades Dark Hills Divide review 2004

Bridewell is a city walled in all about. The three roads leaving Bridewell are also walled until they reach Lunenburg, Lathbury, or Turlock, all of which are also walled about. The walls were put there by Warvold, with the good intentions of protecting the citizens from the perils of that which lived in the wilderness. But the greatest peril was the one Warvold created himself in the erection of the walls.Alexa Daley is a 12-year-old girl with an insatiable curiosity about what lies beyond the walls of her world. She consistently runs afoul of Pervis Kotcher, the head guard whose job it is to keep the outside out and the inside in, and he’s none too fond of this little child of privilege running about whereve she pleases.Alexa spends much of her time in the library, or with her father (the mayor of Lathbury) and his friends. With the former, she reads about what may lie beyond the gate, but it’s with the latter that she learns the most about Warvold and his wife, Renny, who had the wonderful talent of creating Jocastas: etchings within gemstones that you have to magnify in order to see. Nicolas, Warvold’s son, shows him the Jocasta in his own stone that his mother made for him, and it is this that Alexa ponders as she sits once again, alone in the library: ————————————————————————Safely tucked into my chair, I had a brief moment of anxiety as I realized the possibility of another encounter with Pervis. This time Grayson was not in the library to save me. Just as I was nursing this unpleasant thought, Sam jumped up on my lap, followed a second later by Pepper. They purred and dug their heads into my chest, looking for all the scratching they could get. I kept rubbing Pepper’s belly, only to have him turn and force his head under my hand.”Since when did you cast off belly rubs?” I said out loud. He just kept on pushing his head into my chest, and then Sam started in with the same routine. I grabbed them both by the nape and lifted them up to my face. I stared them in the eye and they each gave a single meow. Then my gaze focused down to the jeweled collars and the medallions hanging from them.For a moment I went cold, paralyzed, as I’d been when I’d realized Warvold was dead. Meow, meow! the cats screamed. I had forgotten I was still holding them both up by the backs of their necks.I set them both down and apologized as I tried to gain my composure. The cats sat at attention and I took their collars in my hands. The medallions were each about an inch square; one was green and one red. They were adorned with beautiful alternating patterns. Since the cats had belonged to Renny, it was certainly possible that the medallions contained Jocastas. I was beside myself with anticipation about what they might reveal, and I knew exactly where I could find what I needed to unlock the mystery of the gems. ————————————————————————The first Jocasta Alexa uncovers provides a launching point into a plot that could spell the end of Bridewell. For there are, indeed, forces outside the walls of the cities that would invade them and do them harm. But before Alexa can convince anyone of the threats both without and within, she must first become an explorer herself, much like Warvold, and leave the confines of the walls! What she discovers beyond will thrill, enchant, and skillfully bind the reader to the book from page to page as Alexa encounters a world of Narnian proportions.Patrick Carman is not so much an author as he is a lapidary, much like his fabled Renny Warvold. He has carved and refined and polished the story of Alexa Daley until it shines like a mystic gem. You’d be far remiss not to pick this one up and peer inside for the enchanting secrets within.

Patrick Carman