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Cover image for The low road
The low road

Publication Information:
New York : Amulet Books, 2008.
Physical Description:
498 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Series title(s):
Number in series:
bk. 1.
When Matt and his family move to a new development, they stumble into the middle of massive upheaval in the Elf Realm, and as the elves' territory disintegrates and dark factions try to seize control, an apprentice mage sees in Matt the key to saving the human and elfin realms from destruction.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader/Renaissance Learning MG 5.7 18.


Call Number
J Kirk, D.

On Order



A debut fantasy novel by a beloved picture book author, and the first in an exciting trilogy set in the world of fairies


When Matt and his family move to a new neighborhood, they do not realize that they've inadvertently stumbled into the middle of massive upheaval in the fairy world. With the elves' territory disintegrating and dark factions looking to seize control, apprentice mage Tuava-Li must defend her way of life--even when that means cooperating with Matt, a human and a natural enemy, as he may just hold the key to keeping the elf realm from certain destruction.


Daniel Kirk has created a mystical world that will envelop readers. A rich story peppered with illustrations that make it come alive, Elf Realm is a world few will want to leave.

Author Notes

Daniel Kirk has illustrated a number of popular and bestselling books for children, including Library Mouse , a Parenting magazine Best Book. This is his first novel. Daniel lives in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, with his wife and three children.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Readers fond of elves, fairies, and trolls will enjoy this fantasy feast. When Jim McCormack takes his young daughter, Anna, on an early-morning hunting expedition in the nearby woods, he stumbles on a royal fairy wedding, and, aiming his gun at a deer, he accidentally kills the groom. This precipitates an already smoldering conflict between the human and fairy worlds, exacerbated when Jim's son grows up and begins cutting down trees to build a development in the fairy woods. When Jim's grandson, Matt, cuts his foot on an important fairy shoe, the two worlds collide. The action is fast paced, and the fragile line between fairy and human worlds is clearly drawn. Characterizations are well done. Young Anna becomes a kind of human sacrifice, kept prisoner for years by the fairies as punishment for the murder of the fairy prince. Stunning imagery paints a believable sylvan fairy world, eerily spooky and dangerous. Humor in the form of a troll named Agar whose lair is cluttered with hoarded treasures lightens the mood. Large, full-page black-and-white sketches of elves with huge eyes and pointed ears emphasize the haunted, otherworldly atmosphere. After reading this intriguing fantasy, readers will take a careful look around them while walking through the woods.-Quinby Frank, Green Acres School, Rockville, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his debut novel, picture book author/artist Kirk (Library Mouse) delivers a complicated magical tale, the first installment of a projected trilogy. The veil between the elfin world and the human world has grown thin, and with humans cutting down forests to build houses and subdivisions, the elf community begins to lose its battle to keep its secrets. Two children, Matt and Becky--whose developer father is poised to destroy the trees that protect the elfin city of Alfheim from discovery--stumble upon a long-lost sacred wedding shoe that elfin royalty desperately wants back. The fate of the elves becomes intertwined with that of Becky and Matt, who must decide if they are willing to risk everything to save this magical realm. Without sacrificing plot for message, Kirk offers a subtle critique of the ways humanity mistreats the planet. His illustrations add an otherworldly beauty to what is otherwise a light, playful (if not a tad long) tale. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

A grim fantasy doorstopper uncomfortably juxtaposes gory adventure with New Age sermonettes. Matt14, although appearing barely ten in his portraitis unaware that the woods his father is bulldozing for development impinge upon Faerie and that his family has a tragic history with its denizens. His chance discovery of a doll-size shoe embroils the humans in the troubles of the elves, in which romantic plotting and political intrigue intertwine with impending environmental disaster. Kirk's Smurf-sized elves are an unchancy lot; while the villains are uniformly steeped in deceit, selfishness and violence, even the "enlightened" and "gentle" clans resort to theft, destruction and torture without compunction, despite their interminable ruminations on a vague eco-spirituality. The complicated hierarchy of the Elf Realm adds more confusion than depth or wonder, while the slightly creepy illustrations (mostly static headshots) illuminate little. After meandering for 400 pages, the narrative literally explodes into a barrage of grisly poisonings, suicide bombings, corrosive gas attacks and an apocalyptic inferno, resolving exactly zero of the plot lines and concluding with the most clichd of cliffhangers. Unpleasant. (Fantasy. 12-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The well-known author and illustrator of works like Snow Dude (2004) and Library Mouse (2007) ventures into the realm of elves in his first book for older children and younger teens. The Cord, or low road traveled by the elves throughout their realm, is failing, resulting in a collapse of the boundaries between human and elfin worlds. Fourteen-year-old Matt, while playing on the site his father is clearing for a housing development, steps on a sharp object. He pulls from his heel a small, bejeweled shoe, which is part of a pair that the elves hold dear and intend to get back at all costs. Matt meets an elf Mage to exchange the shoe for foot-healing medicine, an encounter that leads to further entanglements. The complex, suspense-filled plot pits humans against elves and elves against elves. Highly imaginative, intricately described, and filled with a wide cast of memorable characters, this is a thoroughly engaging fantasy that never lags. The story is a bit more sophisticated than Kirk's accompanying action-filled illustrations, and the human protagonist seems a bit younger than his chronological age. Still, readers will be easily absorbed in the story and will look forward to the second book in the planned trilogy.--Koelling, Holly Copyright 2008 Booklist