Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Sapphique is the sequel to the bestselling Incarceron and in many ways I found it a better read. A quicker pace and more action meant the story dragged less and I cared about the ending more.  The action sequences and suspense of inside the prison elevated this book above the first one in my mind. A creative and well done conclusion to the series.

Take it away publishers synopsis:

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.

Just like in the first book, there are two stories that ultimately connect: Finn and Claudia are trying to prove Finn is the Prince while still trying to find a way to reconnect with the prison to find the Warden and Keiro; Keiro and Attia are trying to survive, escape to reunite with Finn, and keep the prison from escaping itself.

Personally, I found the whole tension with Finn a bit much. But to be fair, the transition from prison to court would be a great shock psychologically and leaving your closest friend behind would make it doubly difficult. The angst and anger, however, just wore thin for me.

I much preferred the action inside the prison. The darker or more ambiguous characters were just better to my mind: the warden, the prison itself, Keiro, and Rix. The prison’s search for escape combined with the plotting or the warden, the naked desire of Keiro and the madness of Rix added up to a nice level of action and suspense.  And the setting of the Incarceron was just unique enough to make it that much better.

The outside action was bumped up a notch as well. The more detailed involvement of Claudia’s sapient tutor Jared was better than just the Finn-Claudia relationship. And the ultimate undoing of the false luxury of the realm was a nice touch.  The conclusion brought all this action and tension together, with a plot twist, in a satisfying and entertaining way.

All in all, I am glad I read this series.  While Steampunk is not really my thing, these two books are worth reading for the creativity and imagination they contain.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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