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The International Writers Magazine The Critical Review:

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
ISBN-13- 978 0 340 89361 6
Review by Michael Luzanycia

Sequel to The Times Children’s Book of the Year award, Incarceron, Catherine Fisher progresses the dark adventures of Attia, Claudia and Finn in her latest novel Sapphique. It follows the mind twisting world of Incarceron, a living prison that rules cruelly and watches its inmates with its menacing red eyes, changes its landscapes at will or stops the oxygen if it so pleases. For the inmates, Incarceron is their universe, Escape is their pipe dream and the outside world is their Paradise. Or is it?

The second person ever to escape Incarceron, Finn, the returned king to the outside world of "The Realm" is in for a shock. However when he comes to discover the horrifying fact of what Paradise has in store for him he is landed in a new prison, a land where reality is hidden from everyone, so that they can live as king and queens, where politics and betrayal are the new threat. To survive here, he must learn etiquette and the art of royalty if he is to prove his right to the throne and save his friends still living within the nightmare prison. Finn has escaped one prison, only to have landed himself in another far worse.

Meanwhile on the inside of the Prison, Attia the dog slave and Keiro the ruthless survivor, still seek another way to Escape, more ways to survive. They quest for the Glove of Sapphique, hoping that it can answer their prayers. But it seems the Prison has its own plans. Zones are shutting down, life is being drained from lands of the prison and as a result the inmates are being shoved closer and closer together and oxygen will soon be switched off. Incarceron is up to something...

Catherine Fisher brilliantly juxtaposes the two worlds of her book, the living evil of the Prison, and the sly and cunning evil of "The Realm". The novel is a captivating constant page turner, each page with more imaginative and unique concepts that stretches the mind. Much like the works of Terry Pratchett, Catherine Fisher has intricately and beautifully woven her two universes too intertwine with each other to create a brilliant read. However be warned, without reading the prequel to this thrilling read, you can be left high and dry trying to bend your head around some of the concepts of this novel. Do not let this put you off however, because the concepts and ideas of this novel are what make it an amazing, new and fresh read.

When reading this book I found myself first asking "What the hell is going on? It took time and patience to have my questions answered, but once I fully understood just what was happening, I thoroughly enjoyed Sapphique. A brilliant fantasy novel that incorporates a good twisted sense of Reality. For the world Catherine Fisher has created, you will never truly know, reality is just what you see and feel around you, nothing more than the computerized world made to your liking and when it starts to crumble? Well that is just what this book is about.

© Michael Luzanycia November 2008
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Michael is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth


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