Emily Rodda is the author of the hugely successful Deltora Quest series, with over two million copies in print. Winner of the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year (Younger Readers) Award a record five times, she seems to know instinctively what children want to read. She currently lives in Sydney, Australia.
Mining folktale tropes, veteran Australian author Rodda (the Deltora Quest series) opens her Three Doors trilogy with promising urgency and a twist of historical consciousness. The enclave of Weld, surrounded by a wall with no opening, is under attack from above. Man-eating "skimmers" fly over the city on warm summer nights, swarming wherever there is light or sound. The autocratic government calls for volunteers to find and destroy the source of the scourge, revealing that there is, after all, a way out of the city. Sixteen-year-old Rye's older brothers, Dirk and Sholto, volunteer and vanish, presumed dead. After a foolish error by Rye impoverishes the family, he sneaks away to volunteer, facing the choice of the three magical doors and the challenges beyond. Are Rye's brothers really dead? Can the skimmers be stopped? And would anyone really want the promised reward: the Warden of Weld's spoiled daughter? Rodda avoids two-dimensional stereotypes entirely: while the brothers' roles are traditional, each is appealingly human. Rye goes questing, not because he has a high destiny, but because he loves and misses his family. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gr 4-6-Like the protagonist in Rodda's Rowan of Rin (Greenwillow, 2001), Rye is young, naive, and voted least likely to save the walled city of Weld from anything, especially flying, destructive monsters. But when his two older brothers fail to return after volunteering to hunt these ravenous beasts, Rye lies about his age and heads off to find them. A Keep Orphan named Sonia convinces him to take her along, and together they step through the golden door and are magically whisked off to the Fell Zone, where they have to contend with dragons, blood hogs, sea serpents, and the evil and ancient Wizard Olt, who requires human sacrifices to stay alive. The mysterious Fellans inform Rye that he is a long-awaited hero and give him nine magical objects to help him find his oldest brother Dirk, stop Olt, and rescue the sacrifices. But wait, there's more-this is only the first book in a trilogy. Rye starts out quiet and introspective, but ultimately shows himself to be brave and resourceful, if unconvinced of his heroic destiny. There's a bit of mystery surrounding Sonia, who has some brave, resourceful moments of her own. The rest of the supporting cast is somewhat flat, with a few exceptions. Rodda's world-building is, as always, excellent, though her use of Fantasy Speech (no contractions) is distracting. There is some violence, but despite that and the fact that Rye and Sonia are teens, this curiously old-fashioned fantasy would work best with upper-elementary-aged readers.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.