Monday, July 19, 2010

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

I received this book as part of an ARC tour from Dark Faerie Tales --- received it on Saturday afternoon, and read it today.   In one sitting.  Yes, it's that good.

Let's start with a summary, shall we?     Synopsis (Product Description):
"Finn has escaped from the terrible living Prison of Incarceron, but its memory torments him, because his brother Keiro is still inside. Outside, Claudia insists he must be king, but Finn doubts even his own identity. Is he the lost prince Giles? Or are his memories no more than another construct of his imprisonment? And can you be free if your friends are still captive? Can you be free if your world is frozen in time? Can you be free if you don’t even know who you are? Inside Incarceron, has the crazy sorcerer Rix really found the Glove of Sapphique, the only man the Prison ever loved. Sapphique, whose image fires Incarceron with the desire to escape its own nature. If Keiro steals the glove, will he bring destruction to the world? Inside. Outside. All seeking freedom. Like Sapphique."

And here's what I thought:    This might be a bit longer than my usual little reviews, because this book is SO GOOD!!!   Obviously, I can't contain myself.     Let me start by saying that I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get into this book quickly, because it's been a bit since I read Incarceron.   But, I had nothing to worry about.  From the very first page, I was hooked.   Catherine Fisher has created such an intriguing world here, that I was completely bound to gulping down this story, page after page.  Maybe it was just because I was so excited to read this book, but actually, Fisher's writing is so smooth, and the pace so quick, that I think any reader would have the same reaction that I did.

As in Incarceron, we have some of the same characters:  Finn, Claudia, Keiro, Jared, and Attia.    Finn and Claudia are in the Outside world, where rigid Protocol keeps everything tightly clamped down.   Keiro and Attia are still stuck inside Incarceron, desperately trying to find their way out.  But it's never so simple as you think.    Fisher weaves so many twists and turns into this story that I felt like every time I thought I knew what a certain outcome was going to be, I got completely turned around.    And, the characters are pretty real, despite the somewhat unreal setting.    Finn, for all of his time spent inside Incarceron, is still struggling with guilt about leaving others behind, and he's not really interested in becoming the smooth, Protocol-trained prince that everyone expects him to be.   Claudia, who expected that Finn would be able to take up the role of prince easily, is frustrated that he doesn't; and she's fighting her own battles against the plotting of Caspar and the Queen.   On the inside, Attia is tough and lives by her wits, but she's unsure at times.   And Keiro?  Well, he's still the cocky _________ (fill in your own descriptor here) that we knew in the first book.      But, as I said, all of the characters are well-rounded, and written true to themselves.  There was never a disconnect for me, where I was saying, "Hmm... that character wouldn't really act that way."  

This story really had it all for me:  great characters who I really cared about, smooth writing, creative storytelling, and a tiny bit of romance and intrigue.    I really loved the cleverness of how the author wove little gauzy bits of other stories into this story.  For example, there's a small bit at the beginning of a chapter where it's Sapphique's story, but it's actually a variation on a Brer Rabbit story.  (This is p. 60 of this ARC).    There are also parts in this story that started to really make me think hard about the real world that the story is set in.   Fisher gives us the information that this world is after "The Years of Rage," and later mentions that a ruined moon hangs in the sky, the result of an attack."  (p. 169).     And, there are parts where the thin veneer of the beautiful Outside seems to flicker, revealing that there may be something truly ugly underneath.      I am determined to NOT reveal any spoilers here, but seriously, it's hard!!   Let me just say ---- the world here is layered, just like the story, and there are surprises around every corner.    

This was a wonderful book, and I thank Dark Faerie Tales for letting me sign up on this ARC tour (my first one, actually).   I literally sat at my dining room table and read and read, gulping down this story.   This book was so satisfying, like the tastiest, richest food you can imagine.   And of course, I'm ready to read it all over again!     But, I'll be passing this book along shortly to the next person in the tour.    For more information about the ARC tour for this book, and to see who's blogging about it, please visit this link.

And here are a few more thoughts ----  isn't the cover gorgeous???   You can't quite tell from the little picture here,  but it's also a very layered design, with lots of subtle details.     Like the first cover, for Incarceron, I wouldn't mind having this framed on my wall.

And, here's one of the first sentences that I really loved:  "Then he picked the inkwell up and hurled it after them.  It exploded into a black, dripping star."  p. 20.    Love that image.

Please note:  this book is supposed to be out in December, 2010, according to the publisher's note.   All page numbers that I referenced are from the Advance Reading Copy, and are subject to change in the final publication.


Black Disaster Fairy said...

Sounds like you signed up for the right blog tour!

Wow, I'm looking forward to this book now. Can't wait. You are too lucky.

Do you plan on doing more blog tours?


Amelia said...

Yay! I'm so glad you liked it. You're absolutely right, this was a very clever sequel to a very clever book :D
I ordered a copy of the British edition from amazon uk just because I couldn't wait until December!
Thanks for the descriptive and informative review. Definitely agree with your points!

Kirthi said...

Ooooh, I must read this!!! Thanks for the long and thoughtful review!

Jen said...

Just a quick comment to Twisted Book Junkie (wish I had thought of that name first!! :) ) - this is the first time I've tried an ARC tour, but I wouldn't mind doing it again. :)

Lisa said...

OMG this sounds amazing! I want to read Incarceron so badly, but I just haven't had the money to buy it :(

Chelle said...

I saw your review was up but waited to read it until I'd written mine. I did enjoy Sapphique and loved the world Fisher created. It's very clever! Here's my review:

My Life With Books - Jennifer K Jovus said...

I agree the cover to incarceron and this book are both stunning. Did you like this book better than the first?

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