Book Review: The Vault – Huw Thomas

The Vault
About The Vault (2012)
The VaultAdam Strong has two main problems in life: how to keep the gang from the local council estate out of the woods where he has his den and how to get the new girl at school to notice that he exists.

But the ancient woods next to Compton Fosse contain more dangers than just the risk of a beating from the town’s teenage psycho. 

Hidden in Hobthrush Wood is the key to a mystery that weaves four disparate stories into a single web.

* The mansion: A gang of professional robbers mount a night raid on the secluded country home of a reclusive billionaire.

* The dead: Three decaying bodies, wrapped in plastic and chains, are found lying at the bottom of an ornamental lake.

* The convict: A sex offender is released from prison but breaks his parole and goes on the run after giving into temptation once again.

* The friends: Two boys stumble across an eerie secret…

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Review: The Vault 

Huw Thomas’ novel combines four threads and weaves them into a mysterious and complex tale set in and around Compton Fosse. At the heart of the story is Adam Strong, a schoolboy with many problems. He fancies the sister of one of his friends and also has the problem of a notorious gang on the council estate. Adam has found refuge in the Hobthrush woodland but his tormentors have begun infiltrating his sanctuary intent on harming him. Adam isn’t the only one with problems though. Three bodies have been found at the bottom of a lake and have the police scratching their heads; a paroled sex offender has gone on the run; and a group of robbers have targeted the mansion of a billionaire for their latest score. Four different tales, somehow related but how?

With four stories to negotiate the novel inevitably jumps around a lot and it isn’t always easy to keep track of everything, especially at the start. Thankfully, the best moments which involve Adam are regular occurrences. He isn’t physically strong is Adam but he is brave, especially when taking on the school bullies but less so with girls. You’ll be both concerned for him and amused by some of his antics. Adam’s crush on his friend’s sister will also make you smile. Some elements of Adam’s story resonated with me from my own childhood where I grew up in Yorkshire though thankfully I wasn’t as curious as Adam. Not that Adam hogs all of the spotlight here. The other stories are each of interest and will keep you intrigued as you try and piece together the connections. It all culminates in Adam discovering something out in the woods, something secret and seemingly sinister.

I enjoyed The Vault. I found it slow-going initially as I got to grips with the storyline but once I was immersed in Compton Fosse I had no desire to leave until I had answers. Of the four storylines, I felt the one with the sex offender to be the weakest though all four segments are good. The sections devoted to Adam were my favourite but the raid against the mansion was compelling and mysterious. You may work out the mystery before the end but whether you do or not, it is fun guessing what is going on.

The Vault is a well-written mystery with four very different storylines seemingly unrelated but all coming together by the end. Adam is a great character, young and seemingly weak, but wise beyond his years when it comes to doing the right thing. This a really good read.

Verdict: 4/5

(Book source: reviewer received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review)

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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