Vault of Power: The Unknown Region
by Philip Whitby
AuthorHouse UK

"If the Oracle had truly stated this prophecy, then no-one stood a chance."

A grisly civil war erupts through the boundaries of the Unknown Region into the Realm, where “magic is a way of life and civilization evolved through sorcery.” A detachment of young mages, including the brilliant youngster, Emma Knight, venture into the great Unknown to reach the Vault of Power, a phenomenal source of magic. Emma seeks adventure after her father has confined her for her safety, but her presence is crucial to the success of the mission, or so the prophecy goes. She is puzzled by this proclamation and, soon, is terrified by it because she’s unprepared for the harsh challenges that the expedition faces. The expedition’s only hope of returning home to save their world is to make an alliance with native survivors and find their way to the Vault, but soon after crossing the Storm-Line, the expedition is blasted from the sky by Death-Hunters. In addition, the surviving mages are dealt many nightmares and setbacks.

The blend of horror and fantasy is familiar to readers by now, but it still packs a fresh punch in this novel. Whitby deftly handles setting and character development equal to Rowling, Gaiman, Briggs, and other masters of fantasy and urban fantasy. The tale contains modern and medieval-like technology and some features drawn from ancient cultures. This is mostly a happy marriage and typical of many memorable fantasies, but sometimes this union feels a bit confusing, as are the subtle shifts in tense that appear erratically. However, these weaknesses are far outweighed by the strengths and fluidity of the tale. The reader will root for Emma and the expedition’s camaraderie and will fear losing her in the unrelenting and merciless horrors she faces. This read is a rollercoaster of ongoing magical adventure and terror, with edge-of-the-seat tension that remains high from beginning to end.

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