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Monday, August 19, 2013

"Obsidian Mirror: Chronoptika #1" by Catherine Fisher (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

 Visit Catherine Fisher's Official Website Here
Read FBC's Review of Incarceron Here
Read FBC's Review of Sapphique Here

OVERVIEW: Jake's father disappears while working on mysterious experiments with the obsessive, reclusive Oberon Venn. Jake is convinced Venn has murdered him. But the truth he finds at the snow-bound Wintercombe Abbey is far stranger ... The experiments concerned a black mirror, which is a portal to both the past and the future. Venn is not alone in wanting to use its powers. Strangers begin gathering in and around Venn's estate: Sarah - a runaway, who appears out of nowhere and is clearly not what she says, Maskelyne - who claims the mirror was stolen from him in some past century. There are others, a product of the mirror's power to twist time. And a tribe of elemental beings surround this isolated estate, fey, cold, untrustworthy, and filled with hate for humans. But of them all, Jake is hell-bent on using the mirror to get to the truth. Whatever the cost, he must learn what really happened to his father.

FORMAT: Obsidian Mirror is the first novel in a proposed YA trilogy. It does not really fit into any one category. It has a combination of sci-fi, fey characters, mystery, adventure, and historical feel. There is also reference to people traveling from the future and special magical powers. It stands at 384 pages and was published in the US on April 23, 2013 by Dial.

ANALYSIS: Every so often a fantasy/sci-fi book comes along that just sweeps you off your feet and you honestly don't know why. Obsidian Mirror is one of those books, at least for me, for the year. And it should come as no surprise considering who the author of this book is – Catherine Fisher.  

Catherine Fisher has made a name for herself throughout the fantasy/sci-fi community for creating detailed, highly original novels and Obsidian Mirror is no exception.

Obsidian Mirror has a little bit of everything. There are the fey creatures, wonderful historic London, time traveling, love, greed, mystery, action, and adventure. Think of it almost as a combination of a time traveling novel/sci-fi/fantasy novel, but its set in the modern world.

I was unsure how I liked this combination of genres and elements. I was undecided at first, but by the end of the novel I was loving it. It really just came together and worked. I think for some authors this combination of elements and genres could have been disastrous and appeared forced, but Fisher has made it work and turned out an amazing novel which will hopefully be the start of a great YA series.

Readers just venturing into Obsidian Mirror might get slightly confused at first. In classic Fisher style there is a lot going on, but readers are not given any real backstory or explanation of what is going on. Readers are forced to go with the flow and learn as they read. Everything is nicely put together and explained eventually, but it can be a tiny bit confusing at first.

Very similar to other novels that Fisher has penned, the characters in Obsidian Mirror are a bit of a mystery to readers. They are extremely detailed and react honestly to situations with intense emotions, but they this mysterious vibe to them. Readers throughout the novel will slowly start to get to know the characters, what makes them tick, what their motives are, and what role they may or may not play in this entire novel.

The mysterious element, just like the slow unraveling of the plot/back story, can be slightly frustrating, but Fisher works her magic and really pulls it all together. The pacing of the novel, eloquent writing style, and unique feel of the novel really makes this novel stand out from the rest.

This novel is a part of a trilogy and does end with a cliffhanger. The main plot elements are temporarily resolved, but there are dozens of unresolved plot elements that leaves readers wanting and craving more. Unfortunately, they have to wait for the next installment.

Overall, Obsidian Mirror is another wonderful addition to the YA sci-fi/fantasy world. It is definitely a top novel for 2013 and I have high hopes for the series. I hope Fisher has learned from the Incarceron series, where it started out with a bang and fizzled out to a disappointing end.   

If you are looking for something new, unique and fun, yet not too overly complicated, a fan of Fisher's previous workers, or like adventure, sci-fi, and time travel, this is definitely a novel for you to try. The pacing is quick, the characters detailed, and the plot is one is not filled with the same old, same old.


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