My first introduction to Catherine Fisher’s books was with The Conjuror’s Game, which I read as a preteen when I “worked” for the only bookstore in our town as a beta reader, helping the middle-aged owner select new children’s and YA books for the store. I was paid in books (probably a lousy deal, but I was over the moon at the time). Of the dozens of books I read for them, The Conjuror’s Game is the only one I’ve kept, and read several times. Catherine Fisher disappeared off my radar for a while, but, thanks to Google, when I discovered she had a new series available, I couldn’t wait to get reading.
Incarceron: Visiting Hours Are Over
What determines the value of a human being? Is it their place of birth, or who their parents are? And what is a person’s identity? Is it a birthright? Or is identity open to interpretation, by manipulation of what others believe, or by whom someone thinks he might be? Can one identity be held by more than one person?
These are some of the questions posed by Catherine Fisher’s dark and mysterious steampunk duology set in a post-apocalyptic utopia and a vast sentient prison world called Incarceron.
Sometime in the future the years of Rage devastated the earth and moon and stilled the tides. Vast amounts of power are required to keep the earth functioning and there is a limited amount of power left over for the people of the Realm to use. So a plan was developed to turn back time and encourage people to need fewer resources by pretending to live in a specific bygone Era of history when there was no electricity and a simpler way of life. However, the wealthy were allowed some leeway and a few luxuries, such as washing machines, electric “candles”, and “skinwands” (a personal device that can erase wrinkles and small blemishes). The weather is scheduled around the royal family’s social functions. And everything is picture perfect down to the imitation cobwebs and the micro blasters that disintegrate the crumbs from a tea party.
The Conjuror’s Game is available from:
In order to ensure this perfection, and save even more power through a clever twist, all criminals (convicted or just suspected) and their families were rounded up and sentenced to imprisonment in Incarceron, where they and every generation of their families would live for eternity. Incarceron was built as a pleasant, benevolent place with counsellors, called Sapienti, who volunteered to join the prisoners and educate them, freeing them from violence and hardship. But Incarceron itself has gone mad and turned against its “children”, pitting them against each other and their environment in a desperate daily struggle for survival.
Claudia and Finn
Claudia is the daughter of the warden of Incarceron. She lives a privileged life in the Realm, betrothed to Caspar, the second son of the late King. Finn is a prisoner in Incarceron with no memory of his life beyond three years previously – except that he remembers once seeing the stars, now nothing more than a legend in the gloom of Incarceron. When he takes hostage a woman who recognises a tattoo on his wrist he sets in motion a series of events that connect him with Claudia and a radical plan for Escape.
Have you read Incarceron? Or other Catherine Fisher books?
Elle Carter Neal is the author of the picture book I Own All the Blue and the teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin. She has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, holding childhood slumber-party audiences entranced until the early hours of the morning. Elle decided to be an author the day she discovered that real people wrote books and that writing books was a real job.