The House of Power is a unique blending of "The Village" meets "Dark City" 2.23.07

Bestselling author Patrick Carman, has left behind the Land of Elyon and created a new world for readers. Welcome to Atherton, a world that looks something like a child’s top: an uninhabited (or is it?) southern hemisphere, topped by a triple-layer of flat landscapes — the Flatlands, Tabletop, and the Highlands. The flow of water is controlled by the lords who live in the highlands, who let it flow into the second tier of Tabletop, the agricultural level where the people grow rabbits, sheep and figs. Waste is thrown literally off the edge of the world into the barren Flatlands.

But there’s a secret behind this feudal society that none of the residents know: Atherton is an artificial world.

Edgar, a young boy of Tabletop, is an anomaly among his folks. He gets into trouble with the master of the fig groves frequently, because his mind is elsewhere, and at night he practices his forbidden hobby: climbing the cliffs to the Highlands, to see how high he can go. He’s seeking something from a memory long ago, and eventually finds it — a book, which contains all the secrets of Atherton. Which would be a handy thing… if Edgar knew how to read. But the only people who know how to read are the higher classes in the Highlands.

As Edgar works on finding out the contents of the book, the other citizens of Atherton are in for a surprise as well: the Highlands are sinking! What will happen when the high class and the low class eventually find themselves on equal footing, after the Highlands having been so demanding of Tabletop for so long? Nobody knows, but they don’t expect it to be good, so they prepare for war — an unheard of concept outside of storybooks.

But Edgar won’t be around for the war — because he’s gone exploring for more information in the Flatlands, which is where he meets Dr. Luther Kincaid, who finally explains the world of Atherton in full to Edgar (or at least as best as Edgar can understand it):

“Where you come from, there are almost no trees. Can you even imagine a place so unlike the grove? The air is filthy, nearly impossible to breathe. A person can live where you come from — lots of people do — but it’s not the beautiful world it used to be. If you must know, it’s called the Dark Planet, and it’s closer than you think.””But how did I get here? How did anyone get here? And why don’t I remember my life before Atherton?”Again Dr. Kincaid slipped into speaking in terms Edgar couldn’t understand. he lectured about computers and machines and something called the third wave, until Edgar shook his head. Science, skyscrapers, televisions, cars, pollution — all of it was lost on the boy. It made the divide seem impassable to poor Dr. Kincaid.”Try again,” suggested Edgar. “And pretend you’re a boy like me. Maybe that will help.”Dr. Kincaid pondered this approach a moment before he continued.”There came a time on the Dark Planet when I and a group of other scientists — those are people who try to solve problems — had the idea of building a new place where people could live. We worked on it for a long time and found ourselves going in circles, not getting anywhere. But then we found someone who could help us.”

The House of Power is a unique blending of “The Village” meets “Dark City”, and the release is being supported by a website that is interactive with codes found in the book, as readers are invited to Unlock Dr. Harding’s Brain and delve deeper into the secrets of Atherton — a world that is, quite literally, turning inside out!

The adventure is told in a straightforward fashion, and older readers will quite likely be able to deduce puzzles rather easily. Younger readers, however, will be enthralled, and readers of any age will appreciate the imagination involved in creating every aspect of Carman’s new world.

Patrick Carman