'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Review: The Golden Door

For those of us who have never given up reading children’s fiction, as it never ceases to offer up beautiful gems of literary adventure, will know how lucky you can be as a reader when an author who you loved as a child is still bringing out new books.

Emily Rodda is one such author. My primary school years were filled with Rodda’s books, in particular her Teen Power Inc series. While I missed the release of the Rowan of Rin and Deltora Quest series as I was busy being distracted by High School, I quickly caught up when I started working in the children’s section of a book shop. Then I was there for each of the Rondo titles as they were released.

Now, I find my heart quickening at the very idea of a new book by Jennifer Rowe (who writes as Emily Rodda). So, when I heard that there was a new title on the way, I became instantly preoccupied and found that no other books would satisfy me.

Listen to me prattling on … imagine what a child (for whom the books are actually written) might be like? I almost envy children yet to discover Emily Rodda, as they have hours and hours of pure reading delight in front of them.

So, The Golden Door? I hear you ask, “What’s it like?”

It’s everything you would want from fantasy adventure fiction, and everything you have come to love about Emily Rodda.

Rye, the youngest of three brothers (yes, three, that magic number of myth and folklore) knows nothing of the world outside his city other than what he has been taught in school. Weld is an ancient city that is surrounded by a wall to keep out their great enemy. However, over recent years, fierce creatures known as skimmers have been attacking in ever-increasing numbers each night and things are getting very dire. That’s when the warden of the city calls for volunteers to leave through a secret way in order to find the source of the skimmers and put a stop to the attacks. Rye progressively watches his brothers leave to volunteer and try their hand at being a hero.

So finally, when Rye can see no other options, he presents himself as a volunteer, lying about his age and finds himself before the “secret way” out of the city: Three doors. Believing that finding his brothers must come first, and then saving the city will follow, he chooses the gold door. This would not have been his choice, but he knew that his eldest brother would have been drawn to its ornate beauty.

Life outside the wall is nothing like he was expecting and his journey to find his brother leads him to many strange places.

Emily Rodda is a master of setting up the dramatic climax from the very beginning. Solutions to problems present themselves to you as the reader at the same time that the characters come upon them. Things that you believe to be the truth from the beginning turn out to be lies, or cover-ups, or misunderstandings which offer up shocking revelations at the end. I find myself reading each line carefully, looking for all the clues, but at the same time, being wary that I am being deceived. It’s brilliant!

The Golden Door will be a sure-fire hit with anyone who liked (or loved) her other fantasy series. Or, if you’re lucky enough to still have all this inspired fantasy adventure in front of you, then The Golden Door is just as good a place to start as any.

I (like many others, I’m sure) am eagerly awaiting the next two in this trilogy.

- Review by Thomas Hewitt

Title: The Golden Door – Book 1 in the Three Doors Trilogy
Author: Emily Rodda
Publisher: Omnibus Boooks (Scholastic), $15.95
Publication Date: September 2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781862919129
For ages: 8+
Type: Junior Fiction