Remember how odd and twisted Through The Looking Glass was? I just read a book that’s odder. In Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher, nothing is what it seems. The truth slides around like sand dunes. Nothing and no one is straightforward. It was fantastic!
Inside the titular Incarceron, an inscrutable sentient prison, lives Finn, a young man haunted and tormented by a past he cannot remember. He dreams of escaping and finding his missing memories. And he is not as innocent as he appears. Incarceron has no room for innocence. Outside dwells Claudia. Her father is the Warden of Incarceron, keeping secrets within secrets. Claudia is trapped in another sort of prison: a cage of rules. The Protocol instituted by a long-ago king traps her world in a stereotype of history with archaic customs and clothing. Nothing may change. Claudia wants change. She wants to escape her impending wedding to the boorish heir to the throne.
Then Finn and Claudia find the keys. The mysterious crystalline artifacts allow them to discover each other and untangle the secrets and truths of their world. I shan’t spoil the twists and intrigues. They are far too much fun to read.
Incarceron is a book of labyrinths inside labyrinths. None of the characters know the entire truth about their world, and no one knows who might be lying or why. The dystopias of the worlds insides and outside the prison were meant to be utopias. Incarceron was intended as a glorious social experiment. The Protocol was meant to protect everyone in a simpler, friendlier time. I really enjoyed this unique look at stagnation and decay.
This book takes a brain to read. I am fairly skilled at guessing the outcomes of plot points and predicting twists. I was blindsided and wrong too many times to count. Incarceron is fascinating. I could hardly put it down.
I believe this work deserves four and a half gears out of five. It was a dark and twisted journey through a dark and twisted world, and I must see whether the lies are all untangled in the sequel, Sapphique. So many questions left unanswered!
Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather