Sapphique: A Stunning Sequel


Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Published December 28, 2010.

This stunning sequel to the amazing Incarceron continues the story set in motion in the first volume.  Finn has escaped the prison of Incarceron and has discovered that the Outside is not what he expected at all.   His identity as the lost prince is called into question when another young man appears claiming that he is the prince.  The other person certainly seems more princely than Finn, who struggles with his continuing blackouts and still has no memory of his time before waking up in Incarceron.  Claudia, the warden’s daughter, also questions her own beliefs about Finn.  Could it be that he is not the prince after all?  And meanwhile in the prison, Keiro and Attia are trying to find their own way to escape.  And they just may have found it in the Glove.  That is if the glove they have is the real magical glove that Sapphique once wore.  But Incarceron itself wants the glove too, so they must battle with weapons and wits to find their way out, if there even is a way to escape the prison of Incarceron.

An exciting mix of fantasy and science fiction, this book really built on the first in the series.  Fisher has built a world that is clever and amazing.  Her living prison is frighteningly real, and the violence and danger are heart-poundingly close at times.  Fisher continues to expand on the world that she brought to life in the first book.  The pleasure here is seeing even more of her world.  Nicely, she does not deviate from what was put forth in the first book.  This is an expansion of her original vision not a rewriting of the world, which is done in far too many fantasy sequels. 

Fisher’s characters are also well drawn.  She has created heroes that are human, contrasted starkly with those in power who don’t understand that things are changing both in the prison and Outside.  Finn is a magnificent hero, crowned with royalty and yet questioning his role, his sudden turn of fortunes, and his allegiances.  Keiro continues to be as arrogant and unlikeable as ever, yet he does grow on the reader.  Attia and Claudia are heroines with backbone and plenty of great ideas.  They are more alike than the male characters are, since Claudia has become less haughty and Attia has grown in confidence. 

There are some pacing issues in the first half of the book.  The final half sails and flies past, with the final hundred pages racing by at breakneck pace.  I could not turn the pages fast enough.  The first half was slower and less gripping.  The story is wonderfully deep and that layered complex storytelling does lead to slower pacing.  I just wish it had been more consistent throughout.

I must also mention the attention to detail throughout the book.  The legends of Sapphique are well built and fascinating, including the paragraphs that start each chapter.  Drawn from documents, they purport to be snippets of conversations about Sapphique and Incarceron.  The synopses of the cobbled together books that the inmates of Incarceron refer to are also a delightful glimpse at what our fairy tales and legends could become if mashed up.  These and other small moments round out the building of the world.

Highly recommended, this is a wonderful and very worthy sequel to the first.  I keep waiting for this series to launch the way that Hunger Games did, perhaps the time will be right with this second book.  In any case, it will delight fans of The Hunger Games, so get it into their hands.  Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from ARC received from Penguin.

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