Thursday, September 20, 2012
Review: The Obsidian Mirror (Chronoptika, #1)
Author: Catherine Fisher
Publication: October 4th 2012
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Paperback, 400 pages
Buy: The Book Depository
I knew very little about Catherine Fisher before reading The Obsidian Mirror, only that she wrote Incarceron, which I have yet to read, so it’s safe to say I went into this with no expectations whatsoever, just the usual excitement over a pretty cover. In a nutshell, The Obsidian Mirror is a Middle Grade adventure that combines Science Fiction elements (time travel, to be exact), with fairy lore. Had I realized this in time, I doubt I would have requested it since I normally avoid MG like the plague, but it would have been my loss. Fisher is an excellent writer with a good sense of pacing and wonderful imagination.
Time travel always confuses me a bit, but Fisher didn’t make it too complicated. Many questions were left unanswered, but enough was revealed for me to enjoy the story. The obsidian mirror itself, a time portal of sorts, remains a mystery, but one that will surely be resolved in the next installment. The only piece that simply refuses to fit are the fairies. They might be colorful and deliciously creepy, but they contribute nothing to the story and I can’t for the life of me understand their purpose. Perhaps it will be clearer in the second book, but for now, they’re nothing more than a decoration. (Not for me, though, I’m so scared of them.)
I am not a fan of multiple points of view and I think I would have liked this book more if it were told from Jake’s perspective alone, preferably in first person. Third person, multiple points of view is my least favorite narrative choice as it often prevents me from creating emotional bonds with the characters and the entire experience can somehow seem cold and clinical. Switching from Jake to Sarah and back, with a few short chapters with other narrative voices broke the natural flow, and all the diary entries by the mirror’s original owner, although essential, certainly didn’t help.
I did like Fisher’s writing a lot, although it’s nothing like what I usually enjoy. Her sentences are short and clear, her style refreshingly concise, and yet she somehow avoids making it seem stilted. It worked well for The Obsidian Mirror, mostly because it’s a Middle Grade adventure and not very emotional at all, but I’m curious to see how it worked in Incarceron.
The Obsidian Mirror left so many questions unanswered and I simply can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. I will also read Incarceron and Sapphique as soon as I can. Great job, Ms. Fisher!