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Friday, 27 March 2015
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
What we thought: This YA novel, written by Welsh author Catherine Fisher, is totally gripping from the get-go. It’s Gothic Fantasy, what’s not to like?
Incarceron: an unimaginably massive prison; a world-scape filled with mountains, rivers, cities and labyrinthine dungeons. Sealed for centuries, it is a storehouse for malcontents, criminals and the indigent, created as a computer-run safe haven. But Incarceron becomes sentient and turns the safe haven into a living hell. Generations live and die unaware that they are captives forever barred from reaching the freedom of Outside. What they don’t know is that the ‘free’ world of Outside is as much a prison as Incarceron.
Outsiders are forced to live in a manufactured, medieval world, where progress is prohibited. Most live a life of serfdom. In this fiercely feudal society, they must toil with basic hand tools, barely subsisting, while their ‘betters’ live the faux life of lordlings – lordlings with access to futuristic technology.
Finn, cell-born deep within the dungeons of Incarceron, is haunted by visions of an earlier life. He refuses to believe he was born in the prison and has always lived there. Convinced he was born Outside, he makes plans to escape with his oath-brother Keiro.
Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, lives Outside, trapped in the artificial world of the past, in dread of a forced marriage to a man she despises. She, too, seeks to escape a life of lies, and is helped by her tutor, Jared.
When Finn and Claudia find identical crystal keys, through which they can communicate, their plans look set to be realised. But plans do not always work smoothly. Plans so often go awry, especially under the all-seeing Eyes of Incarceron.
The novel comes complete with a remarkable set of characters, not least the ruthlessly cruel gaoler, Incarceron itself – the AI prison-mind that seeks to see the stars. All of the characters, both evil and good, are many faceted and make compelling reading.
Incarceron is guaranteed to pique, then to sustain your interest until the last page is turned. Once that last page is read, you will feel a sense of loss, a loss eased by the knowledge that there is a sequel. The sequel is Sapphique.
You’ll enjoy this if you like: Titus Groan, Mythago Wood, The Obsidian Mirror
Avoid if you don’t like: Time portals, black-hearted villains and hidden love.
Genre: YA, Gothic Fantasy
Available from Amazon