Author: Catherine Fisher
An amazing, intriguing, thought-provoking story – with deeply drawn characters and a writing style that is such a pleasure to read. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
There is no escape from Incarceron. It was filled with lawbreakers, dissidents and society’s unwanted; then the doors were shut forever, creating a closed system from which none can enter and none can escape. The Experiment in prisoner rehabilitation failed quickly, with brutal warlords taking control of various sections, leaving the inhabitants to fight for grim survival. Finn has strange visions, and haunting nightmares, where he sees the stars, leading him to believe that he has been Outside. Finding a mysterious Key, he begins a quest to find the doorway that will lead him back to the Outside.
Outside, Claudia is the Warden’s daughter. Though she lives a life of prestige and wealth, she is also trapped – by the strange insistence of her society to live ‘In Era’, living in a faux-seventeenth century world ruled by Protocols of courtly manners, quaint affectations and no advanced technology. She is trapped too by an unwanted betrothal, by her role in courtly politics and intrigue, and by her strained relationship with her father. She too finds a mysterious Key, gains a communication channel with Finn, and becomes caught up in plans to help him Escape.
Through Finn and Claudia the story explores such interesting themes: the philosophy of identity; of personal journeying; of prisons and prisoner rehabilitation; of propaganda; authoritarianism; and the way love, hate, hopeless indifference and regret shape a person’s development. There is hope and tragedy and love and betrayal all blended together in this immensely readable story. Highly recommended.