Note: Friday will begin another Series Week! I’ll be reviewing A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, one of my favorite series!
Incarceron is written by Catherine Fisher. It was published in 2007 by FireBird. It is the first book in a duology. Fisher’s website can be found here.
Genre: It’s described/marketed as Fantasy, but it’s more like Science Fiction Dystopian; Young Adult
“Finn cannot remember his childhood. He cannot remember his life before Incarceron—a prison that has been sealed for centuries, where inmates live in cells, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. No one has ever escaped. But then he finds a crystal key and a girl named Claudia.
Claudia’s father is the Warden of Incarceron. And Claudia is about to become a kind of prisoner herself, doomed to an arranged marriage. If she helps Finn in his escape, she will need his help in return.
But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost far more than they know…because Incarceron is alive.”
“Ah yes. I nearly forgot.” He crossed to a leather bag on the table and tugged it open. “I bring a gift from your future mother-in-law.” He pulled it out and set it down.
They both looked at it.
A sandalwood box, tied with ribbon.
Reluctant, Claudia reached out for the tiny bow, but he said, “Wait,” took out a small scanning wand, and moved it over the box. Images flashed down its stem. “Harmless.” He folded the wand. “Open it.”
She lifted the lid. Inside, in a frame of gold and pearls, was an enameled miniature of a black swan on a lake, the emblem of her house. She took it out and smiled, pleased despite herself by the delicate blue of the water, the bird’s long elegant neck. “It’s pretty.”
“Yes, but watch.”
The swan was moving. It seemed to glide, peacefully at first; then it reared up, flapping its great wings, and she saw how an arrow came slowly out of the trees and pierced its breast. It opened its golden beak and sang, an eerie, terrible music. Then it sank under the water and vanished.
Her father’s mile was acid. “How very charming,” he said.
“The Eye was aswirl. Its pupil was a spiral of movement, a scarlet galaxy. All around it, heaving itself up, the darkness convulsed, and he saw the vast hide of the Beast was studded with objects, bits of jewelry, bones, fragments of rags, shafts of weapons. They were centuries old; skin and hide had grown over them. With a tearing and cracking an outcrop of dark faceted rock became its head and reared up over him; spurs of metal slid out like claws, grasping the shuddering tilting floor of the cavern.
“Finn,” it said, in a voice of deep pleasure, a throaty treacle of huskiness. “At last.”
Recommended Age Range: 14+
What I Liked:
Interesting concept Fisher has here. It’s very unique. I enjoyed the world that she created in this novel and I want to find out what happens to it in the next book.
The gadgets were cool. It’s what made me label this as Science Fiction rather than Fantasy, because, really, it’s not Fantasy. It’s more like Science Fiction Dystopian. I think they labeled it as Fantasy because it had a Queen and a Prince and a sort-of medievalish setting in a world that is not ours, which is completely misunderstanding what makes Fantasy Fantasy. They also probably labeled it Fantasy so it would appeal to more people.
Jared was my favorite character and the only one I really liked. He seems like one of those characters who puts on a timid, scared front and then steals your cookies right out from under your nose.
What I Didn’t Like:
Does Fisher know about the conjunction “and”? There were so many sentences where she just placed a comma instead of the “and” and it was so distracting. For example: “Its pupil was a spiral of movement, a scarlet galaxy” and “…it said, in a voice of deep pleasure, a throaty treacle of huskiness” and “…pleased despite herself by the delicate blue of the water, the bird’s long elegant neck.” Maybe she thought it was more poetic, more smooth, more flowing that way? Maybe I’m just not used to that writing style. In any case, it drove me crazy. (Also, what the heck is “a throaty treacle of huskiness?” That’s combining throatiness, stickiness, and huskiness all into one voice at the same time).
Good gravy, all the characters were annoying. Claudia was whiny; Keiro was arrogant; Finn had his moments, I suppose, but he was all “despair despair Outside cell-born Maestra key trust” over and over; Gildas was a fanatic; and Attia was a brat with a crush. Like I said above, Jared was my favorite character. So was the Warden. He was mysterious and conniving and reminded of—guess who—Snape.
It was blatantly obvious who Finn was; I knew by the second chapter. Not that it was blatantly obvious by what was revealed, but it was blatantly obvious by his character and the world. There’s a kid who can’t remember anything before his three years in prison, and in the outside world there’s someone who’s been missing/considered dead for three years? Wow. What a coincidence. I’m glad that it didn’t turn out to be the ending Big Reveal, but was established fairly soon that they were one and the same.
Incarceron has a unique world and is full of cool gadgets and a creepy, living prison. The characters were not very likeable to me, but Jared was amazing and the others had enough promise to want me to read the next book, Sapphique. There were a few other iffy things about this book, but overall, it’s worth a read.
Coming Up Next: Series Week & A Series of Unfortunate Events!