Incarceron – Catherine Fisher



Incarceron — a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology — a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber — chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison — a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device — a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn’s escape is born…


The premise of this book was so, so interesting. I found it to be uniquely dystopian tale, because neither freedom nor captivity was a welcome escape. It was hopeless in its hopefulness.

The idea of a utopian enclosure is quite normal in recent novels. However, Incarceron is different in so many ways — from the rapidly depleting organic material, to the interactions with the prison’s soul, to the sheer size (or lack thereof) of the prison, to the religious fervor for escape by some.

It started off pretty confusing. I disliked the dual perspectives, because I often found myself wishing I could continue with one character’s story when the other character’s plot took over. And to this point, I’m still not sure what the Sapienti are. But I feel like each character was planned so meticulously, with each of their motives so clearly mapped out.

Many ideas were woven into the story gracefully, from an allusion to forbidden fruit to the slaying of the beast. I don’t normally read (or enjoy) fantasy, but Incarceron was incredibly creative.

I loved the “stuck in time” aspect to “reality.” But is it really reality? Could you imagine pretending that technology was less advanced than it was? This was the kind of book that makes one question everything.

Related Reading

  • Divergent – Veronica Roth
  • Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
  • Any good Victorian, fantasy and/or dystopian tale, really

Rating: 4/5


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