August 04, 2014

Monday Review: OBSIDIAN MIRROR and THE SLANTED WORLDS by Catherine Fisher

You wouldn't necessarily think time travel, alternate worlds, mad science, and faeries would go together so well. But when it comes to Catherine Fisher, they really do. I loved her books Incarceron and the sequel Sapphique for their unique combination of both magical fantasy and sci-fi, and her latest project, the Chronoptika books Obsidian Mirror and The Slanted Worlds, has a similar feel in terms of seamlessly bringing together themes and even genres that don't traditionally go together in spec fic. Yet Fisher does it, and does it SO WELL.

Who is Oberon Venn? Explorer, iconoclast, mad scientist, wealthy recluse… Nobody really seems to know, not even Jake, whose father works for the elusive Mr. Venn. When Jake's father disappears while working on a strange set of experiments for Venn, Jake blames Venn and immediately goes AWOL from his Swiss boarding school to return to Venn's estate at Wintercombe Abbey and find out what's really going on. What he finds, though, is the obsidian mirror, which seems to be a portal to other times, other worlds. Is it scientific or is it magical? Again, it's mysterious, and seems to be a bit of both, and it just might be the key to finding Jake's father.

Jake isn't the only one interested in the mirror, though. We are also told part of the story through the viewpoint of Sarah, who has traveled back in time to prevent a disastrous future, and we soon learn that a whole array of parties want to control the mirror for their own ends: its former owner, Maskelyne, who is just as secretive as Venn, and a race of dangerous, fey beings who live on Venn's estate and with whom Venn has a connection he refuses to divulge. Where did the mirror come from, how did it get to where it is now, and what can Jake do to get his father back and keep the fabric of his world—and other worlds—from falling apart?

I can't tell you much without spoilers, but I will tell you that the characters are amazing: each one has a fully developed and intriguing backstory and each is believably flawed. Jake isn't fully likeable at first, and we hardly know Sarah or Venn or Maskelyne or any of the other oddball folks who begin to gather at the estate, and the fey are strange and inscrutable and selfish, but the characters all grow in complexity as the story proceeds through these two books, and as we learn more about each one's vested interest in the mirror and its powers. If you liked Incarceron, or Pete Hautman's Obsidian Blade; if you like Neil Gaiman or Nancy Farmer or Sarah Rees Brennan; if you like books that blend genres and are hard to categorize, I highly recommend this one.

You can find Obsidian Mirror and The Slanted Worlds by Catherine Fisher online, or at an independent bookstore near you!

1 comment:

tanita✿davis said...

Usually I like the work of Catherine Fisher a lot, so glad to be reminded of this one.