The Obsidian Mirror (Chronoptika #1) Featured
Mirrors Have Never Been This Detailed or Mind-Bending
Catherine Fisher is at it again with “The Obsidian Mirror,” the first book in a new trilogy that blends science fiction, fantasy, and time travel.
“The Obsidian Mirror” follows Jake, a boarding school student who will do anything to get out of school and confront Oberon Venn, his godfather and mysterious explorer, who Jake thinks killed his father. When I say he’ll do anything to get out of school, I mean anything, including stabbing a student in order to get expelled. Needless to say, that scheme worked, and Jake learns the disappearance of his father is far more complicated than it seems.
What I love about this book is that every character is insane. I’m not using that in a lighthearted, “ha ha” kind of way. I mean that each character is driven mad to some degree by the obsidian mirror, the device that lets the characters travel through time. Jake is starting to go mad with his need to find his father; Venn is definitely crazy, turning into a recluse, with his obsession to find his deceased wife; Sarah, a suspicious stranger, is insane with passion to accomplish a task she was assigned in another time; Janus and Maskelyne, two characters from separate times, are each mad in their search to find the mirror and use it for their own purposes; and Wharton, Jake’s boarding school teacher who has been tasked with delivering the teenager to Venn, is having a hard time wrapping his mind around the fantastical beings and time traveling conundrums he’s been unwillingly thrown into.
Ultimately, this insanity serves a purpose. Fisher tells readers that it’s important to live in the here and now, rather than obsessing over what happened in the past or what could happen in the future. If you’ve made mistakes, realize that you can’t undo them, but you can move forward with life learning from those mistakes and making yourself a better person because of it.
A heads-up as you head into the book: There are going to be parts in the first half of the book where your brain goes “Whaaaaa?” and you think, “Wait, I don’t get it.” It is all going to pay off, I promise! Fisher puts the pieces of this mystery together one by one, and those pieces create one cosmic picture that is definitely worth the wait.
Each character, whether major, minor, good, or evil, is compelling.
A multitude of story lines that are intricately woven together to create a satisfying finish.
The Obsidian Mirror review
I realized the other day that I, for some reason, always seem to mix up Catherine Fisher and Cornelia Funke. This led to me being a little hesitant to pick up The Obsidian Mirror because I was thinking it was written by Funke and I haven't particularly cared for any of her books. I did, however, enjoy Incarceron and ended up being rather pleased with The Obsidian Mirror as well.
I'm not going to lie. I was pretty darn confused for the first few chapters. Heck, I didn't realize it was set in the present until they were on a plane (and then I only realized halfway through the ride), but then again, I can be pretty unobservant. There's a lot of mystery and dancing around the main story, but eventually things start coming to light and I don't think it took too long either.
I often don't like the third-person omniscient POV because it can be confusing and feel too far removed from the characters and the story, but Fisher does an excellent job with it. Sometimes it will transition from one person to another within the space of a few paragraphs with no warning, but it was so smooth that it didn't bother me at all. And thankfully, I liked all the characters. I wasn't particularly disappointed when it would move from one character's situation to another because I was equally interested in them.
I loved learning all about the mirror, it's past and future. I'm really hoping that we'll eventually figure out the mirror's backstory because even while everything else is going on, there's the ever-present question: where did the mirror come from and what was it's original purpose? On top of that, there's both the past and present strorylines which I'm dying to know more about.
The Nutshell: The Obsidian Mirror has pretty much everything you could ask of a scifi/fantasy. Time travel, a desolate future, a man determined at all costs to get what he wants, interesting faeries, and about a million storylines that manage not to get all tangled and confusing. If you're looking for a story that will capture you with it's mysteries, you should definitely check out The Obsidian Mirror.
Book that will keep you puzzled and on your toes until the last page
If I had to describe The Obsidian Mirror in one word it would be: rebel. No, this book is not about some revolution but it simply rebels and defiest to be labeled. I really had problems tagging it. Should it be young adult or middle grade? Where would you put Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling or The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman? Well, put this book right there with them.
If you try stuffing The Obsidian Mirror into one genre only, you would run into similar problems. Is it contemporary? Yes, since most of the plot happens in present tense. Is it science fiction? Well, you could say so, since there is time travel involved and description of society in distant future... Is it historical? There are excerpts from old journals and some parts of the story happens in 19th century - so yes, it's historical fiction also. Is it fantasy? There are fey and magic and a lot of unresolved plot elements that may turn to be other supernatural surprises, so you can definitely call The Obsidian Mirror fantasy or urban fantasy or paranormal... So there you have it. This is contemporary historical paranormal science fiction/fantasy novel. Ha! Take that Catherine Fisher! You thought you could fool me, but nothing stops my OCD. :D
The Obsidian Mirror is a thrilling adventure set in England at the estate of Wintercombe Abbey. The atmosphere in Wintercombe Abbey is so dark and gothic and one of the big mysteries in The Obsidian Mirror is the house itself and the secrets hidden in it.
"Nothing in the house was straight; everything leaned or tilted; even the floors sloped, and Jake had the unsettling feeling that the Abbey was warping almost as he walked through it."
Story is about multiple characters who all gather in and around Wintercombe Abbey to accomplish their personal, often mysterious goals. Narration is told from third person point of view and jumps between different characters constantly, the more intense the moment, the more switches you should expect. This turned out to be a great tension builder, it does not help for you to really connect to the characters. Although I liked some of them very much, especially Sarah, girl of unknown origin but suspected runaway from mental hospital, and Piers, ever-present all-knowing butler.
The Obsidian Mirror covers a lot of topics. Coping with loss of a close family member, human greed and manipulation, does goal always justifies the means, fight for the better future, lost love, family, friends,... And surprisingly, solution to all of their problems seems to be The Obsidian Mirror.
This is the book that will keep you puzzled and on your toes until the last page. There are so many twists and turns in plot and always something new is happening. The Obsidian Mirror is definitely not ordinary novel full of tropes and cliches. But, for some unknown reason, I had hard time reading it. Or should we better say slow time. I would read and read and read, for ages, and when I check only ten pages passed. This is very strange since I am usually a fast reader, especially with books I like. And I liked The Obsidian Mirror.
If you liked gothic atmosphere of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, scary but beautiful fey from The Iron King by Julie Kagawa or you enjoy reading middle-grade/young adult fantasy novels that revolve around large set of characters and involve mystery, time travel, paranormal and a lot of thrilling action, you are probably going to enjoy The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher. You are definitely not going to say: "Meh, I read it all before" after finishing this book.