Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review of The Door in the Forest by Roderick Townley

Townley, Roderick.  The Door in the Forest.  Knopf, 2011.

I wrote the following review for the March 2011 issue of School Library Journal.

Note: those who are frustrated by ambiguity or unexplained situations may well find that this book drives them crazy.  I found the unanswered questions intriguing rather than frustrating, but The Door in the Forest won't be everyone's cup of tea, despite how well-written it is.

TOWNLEY, Roderick. The Door in the Forest. Bk. 1. 256p. Knopf. Mar. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-85601-3; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95601-0; ebook $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-89700-9. LC number unavailable. 
Gr 5-7–Life in his rural town has always been boring for 14-year-old Daniel, but this summer is different. The Uncertainties that have plagued nearby cities with unrest and violence bring first refugees and then soldiers to Everwood. One of the refugees is 13-year-old Emily, granddaughter of the town witch, who is as fascinated by the nearby mysterious and inaccessible island as Daniel is. When sinister Captain Sloper becomes interested in the island as well, Daniel and Emily know they must go on a dangerous and almost deadly mission to save it. It is 1923, but an alternate 1923 with those Uncertainties. Otherwise the setting is one that will feel familiar to readers of Ingrid Law’sScumble (Dial, 2010) and N.D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboards (Random, 2007)–rural America laced with subtle magic. Daniel cannot tell a lie (literally), and Emily is heir to the magic that permeates the island, but they are also regular kids facing a scary outside force in the form of violent, unpredictable soldiers. The island and its protectors and inhabitants are a lively blend of whimsy and unsettling mystery, a tone that permeates the book. Readers will still have questions at the end (about the Uncertainties, about the island), but the narration allows enough room to ponder and imagine possible answers. A suspenseful, thought-provoking fantasy.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

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