|The Dark Hills Divide|
|Release Date||February 2005|
|Followed by||Beyond the Valley of Thorns|
The Dark Hills Divide is the first book in The Land of Elyon series.
"Twelve-year-old Alexa Daley is spending another summer in the walled town of Bridewell with her father. She looks forward to exploring the old lodge where she stays each year, with its cozy library and maze of passages and rooms. She's also eager to finally solve the mystery of what lies beyond the immense walls that were built to keep out an unnamed evil that lurks in The Dark Hills - an evil the townspeople are still afraid of.
As Alexa begins to unravel the truth about what lies outside the protective barrier she's lived behild all her life, she discovers a strange and ancient enchantment. Armed with an unexpected new power, Alexa exposes a danger that could destroy everything she holds dear - and change The Land of Elyon forever."
Part 1 Edit
Alexa Daley and her father, James Daley, are traveling to Bridewell from their hometown of Lathbury. During the trip, Alexa asks her father to tell her the legend of the building of the wall, where its creation was to keep out an unnamed evil that lurks in the forests and The Dark Hills. Upon arriving in Bridewell and at Renny Lodge, they are immediately greeted by their friends, Ganesh, the mayor of Turlock, and Thomas Warvold, the mayor of Lunenburg, who wants Alexa to walk with him tonight. Alexa is then rudely greeted by Pervis Kotcher, a man who fears the outside world and captain of the Turlock guards. He threatens to tell her father if Alexa does anything reckless while she's here and makes her hand over the spyglass before being driven off by Warvold.
That night, Warvold takes Alexa to the wall and tells her a fable about the six blind men and the elephant before dying. Alexa then opens his secret locket and takes a silver key, thinking it could be of some use, and returns to the Lodge with the news of Warvold's death. Three days later a funeral was held and many people from the other walled cities came to Bridewell during those days to mourn Warvold's passing.
The day after, Alexa goes to the library at Renny Lodge to visit Grayson, the librarian, who shows her a worn out book called Myths and Legends in the Land of Elyon, one of Warvold's favorite books. Alexa takes it and a couple of other books to read at her favorite spot which has a window overlooking the Dark Hills wall. A hawk then startles her from the window which causes her to drop the books and destroy Warvold's favorite book to be destroyed. After spending a couple of minutes putting the pages back together, Alexa falls asleep.
She then wakes up by late afternoon to once again be greeted by Pervis Kotcher. He accuses Alexa of communicating with someone from outside the wall when she was with Warvold the night he died. Grayson comes, but Pervis drives him off. He then arrogantly tells Alexa that he could do whatever he wants now that Warvold is gone and neither her father nor Ganesh can tell him what to do. Grayson comes again with Ganesh, and Pervis quickly makes himself innocent and was even willing to give Alexa her spyglass back, but not before smashing it. After he leaves, Ganesh comforts Alexa, promising to get Pervis off her back and telling her that he is just doing his job to protect Bridewell.
Later in the day, Alexa is enjoying the company of her father and Thomas Warvold's son, Nicolas, over dinner at the Lodge. She learns from Nicolas that his father had a collection of rare gems from his travels, so his mother, Renny Warvold, etched hidden images onto these gems to create Jocastas. The next day, Alexa goes back to her favorite spot in the library when the library cats, Pepper and Sam, come up to her. She finds that the medallions on the cats' collars hold Jocastas.
She goes into Grayson's office and takes his printer's glass ring before Grayson himself comes in, and then goes back to her favorite spot where the cats are still waiting. Alexa first looks at Sam's medallion, which is etched with scattered pathways and "a miniature sparkling mountain at the end of one dotted pathway", so she gets a pen and paper to painstakingly copy the map. When Alexa tries to look at Pepper's, the cat lashes at her and makes Alexa drop the printer's glass. The commotion causes Grayson to come over and check on her before having Alexa join him on a stroll to the kitchen. The two later return to the library where Alexa grabs her map and races back to her room where she spends the rest of the day there.
The next morning at breakfast, Alexa is listening to Ganesh and her father discuss expansion for Bridewell when Pervis joins in by saying that it's a bad idea to expose the people to the outside world; hence he uses Alexa as an example for looking out with the spyglass to the outside. Mr. Daley defends his daughter and Pervis promises to leave her alone. Mr Daley then talks with Alexa in private and tells her that he and Ganesh will be down in Turlock for two days, so Grayson will be watching her and that he trusts that she'll will stay out of trouble.
Discovers that Pepper's Jocasta contains a map of the library. A symbol of a mountain marks an unknown spot. After consulting Grayson, Alexa realizes that this spot is the very chair she loves to sit and read in.
Curious, she takes out her key, pulls the chair aside and looks for a nook in the wall where the key might fit. Sure enough, there is a crevice that exact size. She reveals a hidden passageway.
At the end of the tunnel, Alexa is surprised when a hatch on top suddenly opens. She meets a small man living in the wilderness named Yipes. Then, Yipes takes her to a mountain pool where she find a pulsating lime-green stone.
Yipes and Alexa explore the kingdom of animals outside the walls, and she discovers that the stone, which is a Jocasta, gives her the ability to speak to animals.
Reveling in this ability, Alexa uses the help of her animal friends (notably Murphy the squirrel) and Yipes to reveal that Ganesh is the mysterious former convict called Sebastian that leads a rebellion. They eventually defeat Sebastian, and the walls that protect the kingdom are torn down. Now only Bridewell remains walled.
The story ends as Alexa goes back into civilization, and her Jocasta fades, taking away her communication with animals.