on 12 October 2012
Catherine Fisher is truly an inspiration to follow. I have really enjoyed her previous novels, but The Obsidian Mirror blew me away. A mixture of science fiction and folklore that has been seamlessly blended to create an exciting new series to cherish. It was like reading The Terminator meets Tinkerbell but so much better. The way the author writes is reminiscent of the styles of such greats as Philip Pullman and Cornelia Funke. I will admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Catherine Fisher as her books played quite a huge part in my very early book blogging days; I read and reviewed quite a few.
I loved the way the story was structured, the story was evenly blended as it moved from one character to another, where you desperately wanted to know what was happening in the background all the time. Each chapter ended with a cliffhanger, which found you desperate to get back to their strand of the story. As you delve further into the story, you find yourself gathering an assortment of facts,which you need to weave together in order to find out the truth about the mirror, which in itself is a character within the book; a strong, dark presence, ominously waiting to create havoc within the lives of the characters. The mirror plays a game similar to Russian Roulette, where you never know if the outcome will be favourable or not.
The characters had very strong personas and even nondescript ones such as Rebecca, who appeared as excess baggage in the story to begin with turned out to be valuable to the plot. The author fooled us with their initial presence; a sign of excellent writing.
The scenery was breathtaking as the characters stood simultaneously in between seasons. I loved the December setting, making this a fabulous contender for a Christmas reading session. The story is extremely well plotted, and it heads off at such a furious pace, you find yourself unable to walk away from the book.
The ending was a bit of a shocker to me! I honestly didn't even twig that things would work out the way they did and yet I should have seen it. On reflection, I could see the subtle hints and signs that had carefully been laid out by the author, I think I was just so engrossed in the whole story I missed them completely.
I only had a tiny little niggle with the book and I am sure it's because I am editing at the moment that I am picking up on such a minuscule point. I couldn't see how Jake successfully managed to smuggle the marmoset from Switzerland to England on an aeroplane; being one of those people who regularly gets stopped by customs (before you ask, I have no idea why) , I felt that this would be impossible to do with the present security system in place. However, looking at it from a different view point, I have never ever flown out of Switzerland, so I don't know if their airport security is as tough as ours. So this could be a completely moot point!
Anyway, regardless of this little niggle, this is an excellent read and I want everyone to read it. I want everyone to be as enthralled with this series as I am. I knew Catherine Fisher was talented, I think I'd just forgotten how much.
An awesome start to the series - I can't wait for Book 2!
Jake has just been expelled from his boarding school in Switzerland so he is going to be sent home to live with his Godfather, Oberon Venn who, he believes, killed his Father. Obviously as a minor, he cannot travel alone so his head of Humanities teacher, Mr. Wharton travels with him back to England and to the strange house of Oberon Venn.
Wintercombe Abbey is not exactly a welcoming place and neither is Venn very welcoming either. Jake is determined however to find out what happened to his Father. In the events that follow, Wharton decides to stay on to help Jake and also to try and protect him.
The story centres around a centuries old black mirror which supposedly you can time travel through.........is this where Jake's Father disappeared to? You will have to read this really quite good book to find out.
It is very well written although I did notice two teeny mistakes.....1) The Shee should be written as The Sidhe although it is pronounced as the former and 2) Mortimer Dee is incorrect. It was John Dee who was Elizabeth the Firsts Astrologer. Leaving these two niggles aside, I would recommend this book thoroughly for adults and children alike.
Catherine Fisher's many fans will be delighted to hear that her latest, "The Obsidian Mirror", is the start of a sequence. Fisher works differently, I think, in standalone books and sequences. The standalones, like "Crown of Acorns", "Darkhenge" and "Corbenic", tend to focus on some deep-seated trauma in the young protagonist's mind; he or she will, via the medium of fantasy, find some way of living with reality. The journey is essentially a foray through an individual mind. In the sequences, Fisher can show her immense craft at world-building (as in the two Incarceron novels, where a misguided attempt to halt change and development has resulted in a world of fake surfaces and hidden realities rather like a film set). In these sequences, though the protagonist will still have his/her own issues to work out, there is also a whole universe of equally fascinating minor characters with their own journeys, sometimes parallel, sometimes interlocking. They are already emerging here as they did in "The Book of the Crow", her last work on this scale, and I'm already particularly invested in Molly, a Victorian street urchin of immense character and resourcefulness of whom we shall surely see more in the next volume.
The workings of time have always been a fascination of Fisher's; in "Corbenic", Cal gets off at the wrong station and finds himself in Arthurian times, while in "Crown of Acorns" three stories, from different times in history, run parallel. But this is the first book of hers I recall in which the possible mechanics of time travel have played any part. The mirror of the title is a way of travelling in time, and both a man, Venn, and a boy, Jake, are trying to use it for personal ends, while another character, from a different time, is trying to destroy it for altruistic reasons. At least, that's how things seem now; anyone acquainted with Fisher's ability to produce plot twists that are both credible and surprising will be wary of coming to any definite conclusion on motives for some time yet.
Another Fisher signature which I am personally delighted to see reappearing is her fascination with cold. Anyone who recalls the gripping imaginative prose of the Snow-Walker trilogy will be happy to find themselves back in the depths of winter, and these descriptions are among the most memorable passages in the book: the moon "a silver fingernail through the branches", the snow that "fell in slow diagonals, twirling out of the dark". One of the most striking moments is when the wood-dwellers emerge:
The Shee were flocking from the wood. They carried bells and chimes, many beat drums and the deep throbbing rhythm made starlings rise from the trees and call to each other across the sky. The snow had stopped falling; now it lay deep and still and the clouds were clearing. High above, like a dust of diamonds on black velvet, the stars were coming out, sherds and slivers of brilliance, eerie over the frozen Wood and the blue-white hummocks of the lawns.
As usual, the narrative impulse was so strong that I devoured the thing in a ridiculous hurry and will need to re-read. But I'm already completely hooked. The sequence is currently set to comprise hopefully four books, possibly three. The more the better, I say.
Straight off I have to say The Obsidian Mirror is AMAZING! I was so caught up in the story that my notes are minimal! Why haven't I heard of this author before?
The blurb is a good representation of the story.
Beginning with a scene of an angry student at Compton College in Switzerland, we follow Jake and his Humanities teacher, Wharton as they travel to Wintercombe Abbey in the search for his father.
Next we're introduced to Sarah. I had so many questions about her and the replicants. What is it? Who is it? Why is Sarah important? What impact will she have? Is she from the past? From the future? How does she know Wintercombe Abbey which has been in Venn's family for generations?
The scenes in London felt so real! I was with Jake as he climbed that rope and locked in the musty cellar.
The author captures the `Shee' (Sidhe) perfectly. Everything I've ever read about the mythology came to life on these pages.
With a great cast of characters (most of whom are not what they seem) and fast-paced action at every turn, The Obsidian Mirror is a story that will totally engage your imagination. There is not one place where I could put it down because I just HAD to keep reading.
The threads started to come together and I got some answers. I can't wait to see what happens in The Box of Red Brocade ...
Whether you're a YA reader or an adult! if you love fantasy, folklore/mythology, dystopian/sci-fi then I highly recommend you read this.
The Obsidian Mirror is awesome. Did I say I loved this?!?!?!
I bought The Obisidian Mirror a long time ago, and so glad I found it recently while browsing on my Kindle!
I get quite fed up with the current trend for turning every story into a series of books, as it often feels like one story stretched across several books simply for the purpose of squeezing extra money out of readers. I thought The Obsidian Mirror was going to be the same kind of thing, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the book so much that I was pleased there are more to come.
The story begins with Jake, a boy tormented by his father's disappearance and determined to force his godfather Oberon Venn to tell the truth about his part in it. Jake wangles his expulsion from school, and is sent back to Venn along with his reluctant teacher Wharton. Once there, Jake discovers that Venn and his father had been experimenting with the obsidian mirror, a mysterious object which allows time travel but is full of its own dangerous power. There are several characters seeking control of the mirror, each with their own motives and back-story, and I liked how bits of that back-story were dropped into the story, always keeping the reader wanting to know more.
The characters are all very well drawn, with shades of dark and light, and I could easily imagine a whole book for each of them to explain where they came from and what made them the way they are. There is plenty of action, twists and turns and intrigue. It made the whole book the kind of read that you just don't want to end, so I was very satisfied that the ending left lots of promise for an exciting and enjoyable second instalment. Highly recommended, a very good read.
This was my first reading of book written by Catherine Fisher and I had no preconceptions. Except from the information contained in the Amazon overview abstract which peaked my interest. From my understanding, she has written a book called Incarceron, which I have yet to read. The Obsidian Mirror is adventure that combines Science Fiction in terms of time travel and fantasy. Tales that contain `Time travel' can be at times confusing, but Ms Fisher doesn't make it overtly too complicated. The narrative leaves many questions left unanswered, but there was enough revealed for the reader to enjoy the story. The obsidian mirror itself, is a time portal of sorts, and remains a mystery, but I am sure all will be revealed in the next instalment? The only irritant in this mix of themes, and simply refuses to fit, is the fairies. They might be colourful characters and are horribly creepy, but they seem be too be absolutely and totally an irrelevance to the narrative, and I can't understand their purpose in this story. Maybe their role will be clearer in the second book?
I am not too enamoured by a narrative that is told from of a multiple of points of view and I think I would have liked this book more if it were it told from Jake's perspective alone, and in first person. Third person narrative is my least favourite narrative choice here, this maybe me, but I feel you lose emotional bonds between the characters and the entire experience can come off being somehow seem cold and clinical in its delivery. For example the switching narration from Jake to Sarah and back, within a few short chapters with other narrative voices `jarred' the natural flow. Ms Fisher is an excellent writer with a good sense of pacing and wonderful imagination. Her sentences are short and clear, her style pleasingly concise, and yet she somehow avoids making it seem `wooden' in the telling. The Obsidian Mirror left so many questions unanswered and I look forward to the sequel.
As a long-term fan of Catherine Fisher's, I was looking forward to this a lot, and for the most part it lives up to expectations even if it doesn;t reach the heights of Incarceron.
The Obsidian Mirror is both thriller and SF, and, being written in Fisher's acid-etched prose, equally satisfying to fans of many genres. Clever, rebellious Jake deliberately gets himself expelled from a posh Swiss boarding school and arrives at the mysterious multi-millionaire Oberon Venn's remote house in Devon, determined to discover why his father has disappeared. Sarah is on the run, but is she mad, or a frail and ingenuous fugitive from another world, which has sent a Replicant to hunt down and retrieve her? Who are the Shee, the people who haunt the atmospheric Abbey?
Venn knows some answers, and blackmails Sarah into working for him on his new project. An explorer and inventor, he was once Jake's father's best friend - but is he also his murderer? Jake has been left nothing but a battered copy of Hamlet, and we can guess that Fisher's novel, too, is a mash-up of genres. With a kindly, sceptical school-teacher in tow, and the sinister obsidian mirror hidden in the house, both teenagers are drawn inexorably into a world that is stranger than either can imagine.
Brilliantly disconcerting, scary and superbly written by the leading lady of British fantasy, this pursues Fisher's abiding interest in imprisonment, the overlap between magic and technology and the abuse of power.
on 25 October 2012
I love the idea of time travel as the possibilities really are endless, but sometimes in fiction it just doesn't work out. I am so pleased to say that Catherine Fisher has mastered the art of writing about time travel superbly, I was simply glued to this excitedly brilliant storyline! The characters are fabulously quirky, extremely interesting and never dull! There is so much to this complex book, but the thing that I found most intriguing was the introduction of Lady Summer, Lord Winter and The Shee. We don't find out the In's and outs of who they really are or their purpose but we get hints of their dangerously dark natures and it's quite chilling. This is a dark, mysterious, highly thrilling read that I really did enjoy from start to finish, the world building is fantastic even though I had some moments of confusion throughout the book, it was easily overcome. I am new to Catherine Fisher's work and it's easy to say I have been seriously missing out as she really does write compellingly, I will definitely be looking out for more of her works!
Jake Wilde's father disappeared from his friend Oberon Venn's house while working with an obsidian mirror that they are keeping a big secret. Jake doesn't know that though, he just thinks his dad has went missing and has put Oberon Venn in the frame for his murder. Jake manages to get himself kicked out of the fancy private school Oberon Venn (his guardian) is paying for, so he gets sent to Venn's mansion in Wintercombe, which is just wanted all along. He is accompanied by his tutor Mr Warton.
When he arrives at the dark, spooky mansion and confronts Venn about his suspicions he ends up finding out more than he bargained for.! His father is lost somewhere in time and Venn has no idea how to get him back out of the Chronoptika, which seems to react more when Jake is around....
The lead up to the ending is action packed, complex and mind boggingly good! I really cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. I urge everyone to pick up this book as you will easily get wrapped up in this great new world that has been crafted so brilliantly by Catherine Fisher!
on 23 October 2012
The stunning, magical cover of this book that glistens under the starlight really captures your imagination before you even pluck this book from the shelf. I adore the fantasy genre and I know that Catherine Fisher's work will be a big hit, as there are so many avid readers of the young-adult genre. What I love about this genre is that it is so diverse and you find such breathtaking, original books that are so unique and never fail to impress. The Obsidian Mirror has to be my favorite book of the year without a doubt, with the author's creativity and inspired storyline just blowing me away; it really did send shivers down my spine it was that good. Intensely gripping, clever and detailed world building make this novel something quite special (in comparison with Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy), as it is so believable and `real'. From the author of Incarceron comes another astounding book that will astonish.
The first book of the Chronoptika introduces you to Jake, who after the mysterious disappearance of his father comes to the undeniable conclusion that his father has been murdered. Whilst exploring Wintercombe Abbey Jake then finds something much stranger and more mysterious lurking within the icy, snow covered depths. A hidden diary of lost secrets that was all but forgotten and a black mirror that is both a captivating and mystifying object. There is also a tribe of supernatural beings hiding in shadow that haunt the vast woods nearby, as a girl runs through the trees; being pursued by a wolf of ice. At every turn Jake finds many life-threatening and significant choices that he must make, as he makes a choice that will determine not only his fate but that of others. By continuing his journey into the unknown, seeking out the truth you are taken on the most mesmerizing, exciting and thrilling rollercoaster of an adventure that will leave you completely breathless.
This dark and scary ride had me clutching the pages of the book so tightly as to turn my knuckles white, not dissimilar to when watching a horror film when one is so captivated as to constantly fight the urge to turn away but being unable to. I am mortified for having not read any of Catherine Fisher's books before, for she is an incredible writer whose characters come to life off the page and although this is technically children's fiction I would recommend it to the older reader as well. Those of you who love young-adult fiction I urge you to read this book for it is too amazing to miss, being something that stands out from all others as quite exceptional. A plot that is full of twists and turns, keeping you guessing throughout whilst you loose yourself in the quest of a lifetime to find out the truth. Poignant, captivating and totally out of this world I was inspired as a writer by the author as well as delighted as a reader, upon reading this magnificent work. I do not believe that any reader will not be overwhelmed by this book, which is like a chocolate box full of intriguing and wonderful delights just waiting to be explored and enjoyed. The aspect of time travel is fascinating and will have those of you who love anything connected with different worlds, eras and times to be sat rigid in your seat. The messages that the author conveys through the writing is so powerful, thought-provoking and emotional that I was just blown away by it and her passion. The setting of the isolated, mysterious house and the dark wood was just perfect, with the exocentric inventor and Victorian London adding that touch of Sherlock Holmes or historical element to it, taking you back in time through a magical portal.
Full of mystery, hidden secrets and clues this is a story that will remain with you forever. It is just spectacular! *I would like to take this opportunity to thank the author for having her brilliant book as a giveaway on `We Sat Down' book blog, that I concider myself extremely privileged to have won.
on 30 September 2012
This novel, the first in a series focused on the Chronoptika device built around a magical obsidian mirror, features an amazing array of elements. There is magic: in the mirror, in the glamorous and dangerous Shee who live in the grounds of the Abbey; there are also sci-fi elements in the time travel and the hints of a disaster-stricken future. Finally, there is mystery and adventure in spades. As a fan of folklore, speculative fiction and magic realism, I was sure this was a book I'd enjoy and I was delighted to be proven right.
Reading this book is like working through an intricate puzzle, trying out all the pieces to see where they fit. The narrative with its cinematic feel is a key component in this, as the novel is very carefully constructed through relatively short scenes or sequences which focus on the different characters in turn. This choppy narration is skilfully done and has several effects. It makes the reading experience feel like a film experience, as though the camera shifts to follow different characters, cutting from scene to scene. It controls the tension levels perfectly, leading you to a peak before cutting to something of a much lower intensity, then building up again. And perhaps most importantly, it enables Catherine Fisher to people her novel with relatively unsympathetic characters without losing our interest. Oddly, although it's not easy (at least at first) to claim any great love for any of the main characters, it's very easy to care what happens to them.
As well as playing with generic elements and conventions, this book is quirky in terms of age range conventions. Undoubtedly too complex for younger readers, it still has something of the tone of a classic 9-12 fantasy together with more adult involvement than is typical of a teen adventure. These aspects, for me, give the novel overall a nostalgic quality, as though Catherine Fisher had combined the 'comfy blanket' elements of a much-loved children's tale with enough intrigue and mystery to satisfy an older reader. Interestingly, I wasn't aware of this explicitly when reading; it's something I only realised when planning this review.
This is the first in a series and there are still plenty of loose ends to tie up (and probably get more tangled first). I will definitely be looking out for the next instalment(s) in the adventure, and would absolutely recommend The Obsidian Mirror.