The Dark Hills Divide , Carman creates an isolated world whose very existence relies upon the hero ventur"/>
 

The House of Power

Patrick Carman, Author
Patrick Carman, Author . Little, Brown $16.99 (330p) ISBN 978-0-316-16670-6
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In this launch title of the Atherton series, as with his The Dark Hills Divide , Carman creates an isolated world whose very existence relies upon the hero venturing out of bounds. A trio of waterfalls connect the three-tiered world of Atherton, which is comprised of the upper-level Highlands, where the wealthy and powerful reside, the agrarian Tabletop beneath it, and the poverty-stricken Flatlands "at the distant bottom." Eleven-year-old Edgar lives in Tabletop, harvesting figs and scaling the cliff walls. A faint memory directs him to search for something hidden ("It will come for you ," says the voice in his memory)—and he discovers it on the way to the forbidden Highlands. Edgar's discovery is a book, and he must enlist the help of a Highlands servant boy to read it to him (the residents of Tabletop are illiterate); thus the author points out the importance of cooperation. The book, it turns out, was written for Edward and offers up a cautionary tale: Atherton was built as a home for escapees of an Earth-like "Dark Planet," now poisoned and dying. With subtlety, Carman delivers a strong message; he constructs a world in which water is precious above all, and tampering with nature always ends badly. The author occasionally breaks out of the narrative to address readers directly, and these intrusions mar the flow of what is otherwise a fluid and compelling fantasy and mystery. Ages 8-12. (May)

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