Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: The Obsidian Mirror (Chronoptika, #1)


The Obsidian MirrorAuthor: Catherine Fisher
Series: Chronoptika
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!


20 comments:

  1. gr8 review . i hope i read her books soon

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  2. I'm not a big fan or mg myself or of time travel, but I'm glad to see you enjoyed this nonetheless. Lovely review Maja :)

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  3. I was not a fan of Incarceron and Sapphique, so much so that I don't plan to read anything else of hers, unless I see it garnering crazy acclaim. Everyone else I know liked them though, so hopefully you will!

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  4. This looks interesting, but unfortunately I am a very easily confused reader, haha! I will probably give this a go sometime in the future. Great review!

    Steph @ SOOTP

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  5. I've yet to read anything by Catherine Fisher and I'm not really familiar with this title, too (I do know Incarceron). I never for the life of me understand how time travel works as well. I've read quite a few books with that concept and I'd get really confused but I'd enjoyed it nonetheless if I stop trying too hard to understand. I love to try some MG though so maybe I'll check this out. Great review, Maja! :)

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  6. I really enjoyed Incarceron, but it's a book that you can't rush through. You really do have to take your time in order to enjoy it. It has more of a dystopian feel to it. This one doesn't really appeal to me- the plot seems kind of bland and I hate when there's suppose to be a strong componet to the the story only to have it sit idley and make it look pretty. I'm going to pass on this one.

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  7. I don't think I've heard of this one before. I have read Incarceron (though not Sapphique, yet) and enjoyed it so I may need to look for Obsidian Mirror. I do enjoy time travel books (more so than fairy novels) so hearing that the fairies weren't a large part of this one may actually be a bonus for me . . . we shall see.

    Thanks for the review :)

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  8. Oh, I didn't even know she was coming out with another book! Was a big fan of her Incarceron series!

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  9. Are you sure all the unanswered questions didn't drive you batty? I seen this author's books around lately and have been curious. This does sound interesting, but I am being good and not requesting any more titles! So glad you found a middle grade book that you enjoyed! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on The Diviners and Crewel!

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  10. Wow, this one sounds phenomenal, Maja! I read - and really liked - Incarceron but forgot so much of the book by the time Sapphique was released that I haven't bothered to re-read the books. I understand what you mean about those unanswered questions though, as that seems to be Fisher's style. Still, I love time travel and although the multiple POVs would probably push me away too, I think I'll have to just give this one a try. Wonderful review, dear! :D

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  11. Oh, I didn't realize that the middle grade you'd read recently and loved was written by the author of Incarceron!! I liked that book...but not enough to read the sequel. I was really impressed by her world-building though. I would definitely be interested in reading a different series of hers. Plus, I do love middle grade - I might read this one! Great review, Maja.

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  12. I've read Incarceron and Sapphique, and I thought they were a little too dark and complex for MG books yet, they also seemed to be too MG to be YA. And as, you said, the stories left me with more questions than answers. It was all very off putting, so I haven't really been very interested to try her again.

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  13. The thought of time travel mixed with fairies is enough to capture my interest! I enjoyed Fisher's previous books quite a bit, and while MG novels aren't particularly my thing, I'm hoping to give this a shot soon. Brilliant review, Maja! Very well-written as always. :)

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  14. This is a major confession, but I got confused in Incarceron so I just gave it up. I've been meaning to go back to it. I'm *hoping* that I was just in a weird mood or have brain fuzz or something. Orrr, perhaps I need to try this one before I go back to it. You're scared of fairies?

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  15. This isn't something I'd choose to read knowing it's MG but it does sound quite unique and I'm glad you enjoyed it for the most part.

    I don't understand the link between time travel and fairies either and I so know what you mean about multiple 3rd person pov, often I find myself with little to no feelings because I feel so disconnected.

    Wonderfully review, hun!

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  16. Hehe, I'd never heard of this, but your initial description of it as MG (which may have turned you off) completely piqued my interest as an avid MG fan! I'm not usually a fan of multiple perspectives either, but I do love me some time travel (when it's not a trainwreck) and adventure. Thanks for introducing this one!

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  17. A shame that the faeries seem out of place, as the idea of a book combining faeries and time travel has me insanely intrigued! Like you, I often avoid MG books, even though the rare few that I have read these days have actually impressed me.

    I read Incarceron years ago and I remember enjoying it, so I'm definitely interested in checking out more of Catherine's work. Fab review!! I'm really glad you liked it, despite a few issues :)

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  18. Fisher is a great writer and I'm glad you enjoyed this. Though...I am dying laughing at your fairy fear. Fear not Maja. I'd probably be scared too!

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  19. Ever since reading Cath Crowley, I've been a total sucker for multiple POVs. I've been meaning to read Incarceron too, but it got lost in all the dystopias. I may have to give that a try again. Fisher's covers are always so interesting. Great review, Maja!

    -Maggie

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  20. I just read Obsidian mirror it was definitely interesting read. I usually don't mind even prefer multiple povs, but here there were just too many and it did make connection to the characters difficult.
    Great review Maja, as usual. :)

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