On Sunday afternoon and evening, while the wind was blowing at 40mph and the snow was swirling around my house...
... it was the perfect atmosphere for finishing the ARC of Sapphique by Catherine Fisher (Dial, pub date: December 28, 2010 -- tomorrow! -- and fine for ages 12 and up).
Wow! What an exciting read! Catherine Fisher does an excellent job of world-building. This is the kind of futuristic fantasy novel that makes me despair of ever being able to write well. Several storylines interweave to create a richly-textured narrative that makes us question everything.
First, we see Attia and Keiro, still trapped within the dark, chaotic world of the living prison that is Incarceron. They'll do anything to find a way Out. They meet an eccentric magician named Rix who claims to have the glove of Sapphique, the legendary prisoner who Escaped long ago.
Next, Claudia tries to prepare Finn for his coronation as Prince Giles. But is he the true Prince Giles? Why can't he remember more of his past? How will he prove he's the real prince when a Pretender, supported by the Queen, appears and claims the title for himself?
Finally, Jared, Claudia's tutor and a Sapient, who is struggling with his own illness, attempts to find a way to fix the portal, damaged by the Warden when he disappeared into Incarceron. Jared thinks he may have an answer to all their problems, especially when a disaster occurs in the Realm.
The living prison of Incarceron is, of course, amazing, especially when it begins to search for a way to escape itself, but what I find most fascinating about Fisher's world is the Realm, a vaguely-18th-century world where since the Years of Rage, nearly everyone observes Protocol, wearing long gowns or breeches and powdered wigs, riding in horse-drawn wagons, and ignoring the techno-gadgetry behind it all. Kind of a Williamsburg gone mad. Do you think people would ever be willing to go back -- or pretend to go back -- to a simpler time?
If you've never read Incarceron, you definitely should start there. If you've already read the first book, grab a copy of Sapphique and enjoy the sophisticated plot and the fine writing.
On a side note, a movie is being made of Incarceron, supposedly with Taylor Lautner as Finn. I refused to picture him when I read Sapphique, because I already had a firm image in my mind from reading the earlier novel, and that image wasn't of any particular film actor.
Do you picture movie stars when you're reading a book? Or does your mind create an original image?