Fantasy and allegory fans alike will enjoy Patrick Carman’s simple story about a magical land of talking animals and giants. Similar to Lewis’ Narnia series, (though lacking Lewis’ exceptional literary style), the series takes the reader to the land of Elyon, a loving and omniscient supernatural being. His plans to maintain a land of peace have been thwarted by Abaddon, the brightest of Elyon’s Seraphs, who has revolted against his maker and seeks to destroy Elyon and all of humanity. Abaddon has a henchman among mortals, Grindall, who has an army of giants working for him. Elyon has chosen the Warvold family to defeat Abaddon and calls specifically on Alexa Daley to confront this evil being.
Alexa is a non-conventional “messiah figure” in this series. At age twelve, she witnesses what she believes to be the death of Thomas Warvold, a family friend and the leader who built the extensive walls around the land’s cities. (We learn in the second book of the series that he is still alive.) Alexa takes a key from around Warvold’s neck that enables her to leave the confines of those walls. She meets a variety of personages in the countryside, most notably Yipes, a dwarf who becomes her best friend, and Murphy the squirrel. Yipes leads Alexa to a pool where she finds a “jocasta”, a special stone that allows its bearer to understand animal language. Throughout the series, the ability to communicate with animals is viewed as both a gift from Elyon and a sign that a person has a special mission in Elyon’s plan to save his world and bring everyone home to him.
The series has parallels with Scripture and the Narnia series. (The author even puts Mr. Beaver’s line, “Aslan is on the move,” into the mouth of Ander the bear who states that, “Elyon is on the move…”) However Carman’s writing does not have Lewis’ level of sophistication. Many loose ends are quickly and unbelievably resolved. Alexa is an admirable heroine who cannot seem to make a mistake. That said, The Land of Elyon clearly presents the battle between good and evil as well as the importance each individual plays in that conflict.