Jake's father disappears while working on mysterious experiments with the obsessive, reclusive Oberon Venn. Jake is convinced Venn has murdered him. But the truth he finds at the snow-bound Wintercombe Abbey is far stranger ... The experiments concerned a black mirror, which is a portal to both the past and the future. Venn is not alone in wanting to use its powers. Strangers begin gathering in and around Venn's estate: Sarah - a runaway, who appears out of nowhere and is clearly not what she says, Maskelyne - who claims the mirror was stolen from him in some past century. There are others, a product of the mirror's power to twist time. And a tribe of elemental beings surround this isolated estate, fey, cold, untrustworthy, and filled with hate for humans. But of them all, Jake is hell-bent on using the mirror to get to the truth. Whatever the cost, he must learn what really happened to his father.
When I first picked this up, I thought I'd quite like it - especially after rating Incarceron 4 stars, last year. I didn't, for a moment, expect it to be even better. But it was.
The characters were much better (even though those in Incarceron were still good), and the world-building was on a whole new level. I doubt that it could get much better than this.
I'm going to start with Jake. When we're introduced to him at the beginning of the novel, he appears to be little more than a troubled, headstrong, and particularly stubborn teenage boy, with little regret for the pain or trouble he causes others around him. But it turns out, that there is much more to him than first meets the eye.
He's a very self-assured and confident character, at times, but is still acutely aware of his own need for a father figure in his life. He also shows a deeply ingrained intelligence and understanding of the world around him, even when that world is turned upside-down, and inside-out! And, even though he is incredibly focused on his personal mission (getting his father back), he can also show a great deal of empathy, at times.
In other words, his character is definitely not a flat one, and I ended up really liking him, despite first impressions.
There are, obviously, far too many characters in this, for me to mention them all (though I'd definitely like to - they're all fantastic, in their own way), but I do feel that I should mention the Shee. Even after finishing the book, I'm not entirely sure that I understand exactly what they are, but that's definitely a part of what makes them so captivating!
They are basically immortal beings, similar to some incarnations of the Fae, but they almost live outside of time, but inside all times, as well (this will make sense, if you read the book). They're just so interesting - especially Summer, their Queen, and I can't wait to see what happens with them, in the next book! They are definitely a large part of what makes this book so unique.
As I've mentioned already, the world-building in this book is truly immense, despite the fact that, for the majority of the novel, it's only set in one place; Wintercombe Abbey. The way that the Abbey is described, though, really brings the place to life. It was almost like a gothic novel, with the spooky, atmospheric house, that almost seems to breathe with its own life. I could almost feel the chill in the air, and smell the old, musty stink of the furniture and long-neglected rooms. It really came to life for me, and so, despite the majority of the book being set here, it still felt like an adventure.
Then there is the mirror itself. I love the whole idea behind it - the way that, if used correctly, it's a portal to different time periods. However, the technology has not yet been fully harnessed, and this creates a whole host of different problems for the characters to overcome. I was fascinated by everything the mirror had to throw at us - its evident problems, but also its successes, and the places it took each of the characters, when they 'journeyed'. I can't wait to see what it throws at us next!
Not only do we get all of this, but we also get magical, otherworldly beings - the Shee - with their own, sometimes sinister agenda, and the mysterious world of the forest, by the Abbey, where the they reside. We still haven't discovered the secrets of the forest, where deep in its heart, Summer is a constant season, and time appears endless. I really hope we see more of it, in the next book.
Everything about what Catherine has created in this book is so rich, and I have a feeling that it's only going to get better, as the story develops further, later in the series. I can't wait to explore this world some more!
I definitely recommend this to fans of fantasy and science fiction (and of course, fans of Incarceron!), but quite honestly, even if fantasy is not your thing, I would still urge you to give it a go!
Catherine paints such a rich, imaginative, magical and exciting world, and that makes this book utterly unmissable. I adored every moment.
And now for some more excitement! Courtesy of the wonderful people at Hachette, I have one paperback copy of The Obsidian Mirror to give away, to one lucky follower of Pen to Paper!
This giveaway will be international, so anyone can enter, and I really hope that you will, because as you can tell from my review - it's well worth the read!
Before you get entering, I just have a few rules for the giveaway:
- You must be a follower of Pen to Paper via Google Friend Connect (GFC) to enter. This giveaway is for my wonderful followers, so why not become one of them?
- The giveaway is international.
- There will be extra, optional entries, on top of the mandatory entry for following the blog. These are optional, but they could mean the difference between you winning, or someone else taking the prize. If you decide to enter for these optional entries, please make sure that you complete each task in full. I reserve the right to disqualify any entrant who does not fulfil each task that they have entered for.
- I will email the winner when the giveaway is over, and they will then have 48 hours to respond to my email, with the relevant information, in order to claim their prize. If I do not hear back from the winner, within this time period, then they will forfeit their prize, and I will have to draw another winner.
- This giveaway is being kindly provided by the publishers, so the winner's information will be passed onto them, and they will be posting the prize. This is the only way in which the winner's details will be used - they will not be shared with anyone else.
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- The giveaway will end on October 1st at 23:59 EST.
Right, so that's the boring bit over and done with! All that's left to do now, is make sure you're a follower, and get entering on the Rafflecopter below. Good luck :)