Apr 25, 2013

Book Review: The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

Book Cover: The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

#1 in Chronoptika series

Genres: Childrens, Urban Fantasy

Format: Ebook, 384 pages
Published On: April 23, 2013 by Penguin Young Readers Group
Source: Requested for review via NetGalley.

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First Sentence: "I have discovered something totally impossible."

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

OCD Post its Sussane Ludwig
Finally everything is tagged and labeled. Hmmm... Wait a minute! 'Curl my eyelashes' reminder is missing!!!! [image source]

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, but it does not help 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.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5


  1. Sounds like it might be the book for me. Thanks for a great review.

    1. I'm glad I helped you find next interesting book to read. I hope you enjoy it. :)

  2. Glad it kept you guessing and defied fitting into a neat litle box

    1. Yes, this book kept surprising me until the end.
      I refuse to believe it can not fit, I just need to find bigger boxes. ;)

  3. I love when the plot is fast-paced enough that you don't really notice that you're not overly connected to any of the characters; when a plot is that entertaining, I don't need to be best friends with all of the characters!

    1. Yes, when so many things are happening at once, you don't really cheer for any of the characters, more for the whole story - if that makes any sense. :)

  4. Ok, color me impressed, this is so much more than I thought. I love the idea of the house and the world building sounds so impressive. Wonderful review!

    1. Yeah this book surprised me too. Thanks, I'm glad you liked my review/ramblings. :)


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