Pages: 462 (hardcover)
Recommended for: only those who've already read Incarceron; steampunk fans
The only one who escaped . . . And the one who could destroy them all.
Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn’s escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison’s warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn’s and Claudia’s very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn’t fully believe.
Meanwhile, Finn’s oathbrother Keiro and his friend Attia are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron wants the glove too.
There's really not much that can be said about the plot of Sapphique without completely spoiling everything that happens in the first book, Incarceron. Even the summary is jam-paced with spoilers. But I'll give reviewing it (mostly) spoiler-free a go. This was another fantastical, amazingly-imagined novel by Catherine Fisher, set in the world of the living, sentient prison Incarceron-- a world I'd been dying to return to ever since I read the first book last year.
Sapphique is fueled by an ever-thickening, suspense-driven plot which races along at the speed of light. The story switches frequently between Finn and Claudia, who are in the outside Realm world and struggling to secure Finn's claim to the throne despite the conniving Queen Sia, and Finn's oathbrother Keiro and Attia, the former slave girl who has now joined up with a mysterious mad magician who claims to possess the lost glove of Sapphique. The world of Incarceron is one rich in mythology and steeped with weird allusions and stories which have been twisted over time, just as our own is. It's nothing short of mind-blowing that Catherine Fisher can write a futuristic world as complex and crazy-real-feeling ( there's another of my lovely hyphenated words ;) as Incarceron, or indeed any of the other fantasy worlds she has written about. It takes a while for readers, especially those who haven't read the first book in a while, to get the hang of the prison jargon and the story of Sapphique. The atmospheres of both Incarceron and the Realm are so believable, and once again I loved the steampunk feel of everything in Incarceron.
The characters were a hit-or-miss with me as always... I loved Keiro, who's charming even for all his arrogance and self-absorbed betrayals-- he's a character who it is really hard not to love. A warning to romance fans: there was literally almost no romance in this second book, which disappointed me very much. I was expecting a Keira/Attia thing to get going, or a Claudia/Jared thing, but neither of these really panned out beyond a few little hints. (Though I'm sure JK Rowling would call them 'anvil-sized hints', they still weren't enough for me ;). All that aside, Sapphique was jam-packed with surprises and shocking twists, huge revelations. I was unable to put this (very thick) book down for a moment! Parting with it was literally painful. A fantastic conclusion to this steampunkish dystopian dualogy.
Overall Rating: 4/5