The Dark City by Catherine Fisher
The Dark City is the first of a four-book series by Catherine Fisher published years ago in England and now being released (in its entirety rather than year by year) to the US. Classified as young adult, I’d say it skews toward the upper end of YA while also being one of those YA novels that, though it might read a little thin to adults, can absolutely be enjoyed by them.
The books are set in the near-medieval world of Anara, which is filled with the ruins and artifacts of a highly technological society destroyed by cataclysm a while ago. Myths have grown up about the time of the Makers who “came from the sky on stairways of ice”; of the Crow, the messenger between the Makers and people; of Kest, the Maker who betrayed the others; and of the fall of Tasceron, center of Maker life. The myths have been kept alive as a quasi-religion by the Order of Ke... Read More
Catherine Fisher(1957- )
Catherine Fisher‘s acclaimed works include Darkhenge, Snow-walker, and The Oracle Betrayed, which was a finalist for the Whitbread Children’s Book Award. She lives in Newport, Wales. Learn more at Catherine Fisher’s website.
Relic Master (The Book of the Crow) — (UK: 1998-2001, US: 2011) Young adult. This series was previously published in the UK as The Book of the Crow. It was released as Relic Master in the US in 2011. Publisher: Raffi is apprenticed to the Relic Master, Galen, whose task it is to keep safe the relics of a bygone age. But his powers are weakening and he and Raffi set off to meet the makers in the City of Crow to find out why. Will they survive? Or will the ever-present Watch eliminate them.
The Dark City by Catherine Fisher
The Lost Heiress by Catherine Fisher
The Lost Heiress, Catherine Fisher’s follow-up to The Dark City, picks up the action a short while after the close of the first book. Galen, Raffi, and the Sekoi have left the city of Tasceron behind, while Carys has returned to the Watch. The book opens with a bang when Raffi and the others steal back the blue box relic from Alberic, the dwarf thief-lord who had stolen it from them in book one. Some time after that, Carys informs them that the Watch has discovered that the Emperor — long ago deposed — has a living granddaughter. The story then splits in two. One half follows Galen, Raffi, and the Sekoi as they try to find the titular character, all while avoiding both the Watch and Alberic, who is hot on their trail seeking revenge. Meanwhile, Carys is posted to the Tower of Song, a center of Watch activity and recordkeeping, and once... Read More
The Hidden Coronet by Catherine Fisher
The Hidden Coronet is the third book of Catherine Fisher’s Relic Master series, following The Dark City and The Lost Heiress. While book one was quite strong, the sequel was solid but a bit disappointing, hurt by somewhat weak plotting and worldbuilding. The Hidden Coronet is much stronger and a welcome return to the quality of The Dark City.
It begins with several tense scenes — one involving Galen and Raffi trying to rid a house of an evil presence and the other concerning the attempted rescue of several prisoners, including a Keeper, sentenced to hang by the Watch. Eventually, Raffi, Galen, Carys, and the Sekoi from the first two books are back together, their numbers augmented by two: the rescued Keeper... Read More
The Margrave by Catherine Fisher
The Margrave is the fourth and final book of Catherine Fisher’s Relic Master. The series as a whole is a bit thin on worldbuilding, emotional depth, and secondary characterization, but save for a minor drop-off in book two, it is a smoothly exciting read and The Margrave brings it to a satisfyingly strong conclusion.
As in the previous books, the story is split between Raffi’s experiences and Carys’. It begins with a bang as Carys is captured by the Watch at the very beginning. She is quickly brought to the attention of two higher-ups, the castellan Maris Scala and her lover Quist. The two of them decide to escort Carys to the Pits of Maar, the darkest center of the Watch where the Margrave is rumored to live and command the brutal group. Galen, Raffi, and the Sekoi soo... Read More
Incarceron — (2007-2008) Publisher: 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 !
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, is a tightly-plotted, intelligent YA novel that hits the upper mid-level of recent YA sci-fi/fantasy, falling a few steps below Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games or Kristin Cashore’s Fire (admittedly a high standard) but several steps above recent offerings like Caragh O’Brien's Birthmarked or James Dashner’s The Maze Runner.
Incarceron is a prison that originated several ... Read More
The Oracle Prophecies — (2004-2005) Ages 9-12. This series has also been released as 1. The Oracle 2. The Archon 3. The Scarab.
Publisher: They might not know what the future holds, but they know they hold it in their hands. Mirany, the newly appointed attendant to the Speaker, is untested, in fear for her life, and keeper of the god’s secrets. Seth, an ambitious scribe toiling in the shadow of the pyramid, has discovered the secret labyrinths and underground passages to the tombs. Hermia, the Speaker, interprets the words of the god and twists his wishes to suit her treachery. General Argelin, the cunning leader in league with the Speaker, intends to dictate the choosing of the new ruler Alexos, the quiet boy, is fated to rule the land — unless his enemies succeed in their plot. Oblek, the foolish musician, may be the only person who can keep Alexos alive. The Jackal, the black-market tomb raider, will strike like a scorpion if anyone interferes with his scheme to rob the sacred catacombs.
Island of the Mighty — (2012) Publisher: Catherine Fisher’s interpretation of the story of the fearsome Cath Palug, one of the medieval Welsh triads in which significant events and artefacts always occur in threes. Catherine’s narrative voice is clear and spare, and is perfectly complemented by Nicola Robinson’s ‘woodcut’ illustrations. Catherine’s recent appointment as Young Person’s Laureate in Wales makes this a very special publication for Pont readers. It’s the first in our new series — The Island of the Mighty — featuring Catherine’s retelling of traditional Welsh stories.
The Conjurer’s Game — (1990) 9-12. Publisher: Alick is fascinated by Luke Ferris – the Conjuror! Where does he get his strange powers of healing? Why has he got six fingers? What is his connection with the sinister goings-on at the Mere in Halcombe Great Wood?Then Alick follows the Conjuror to the secret chamber under the hillside. There he discovers the ancient game of Fidchell and accidentally removes a key piece in the game – unleashing dark and terrifying forces on to the world.
Fintan’s Tower — (1991) 9-12. Publisher: Jamie was at the library looking for a book that was different, one he could get lost in. But he didn’t mean it literally. The Book with his own name in it leads Jamie and his sister Jenny into the Summer Country – a world of magic and danger, where even time behaves strangely; where Fintan’s Tower has held its prisoner since the days of Camelot, and will keep Jamie and Jenny, too, unless Jamie can read the book right…
The Candle Man — (1994) 9-12. Publisher: Meurig, the fiddler, is a haunted man. Hafren, the evil spirit-woman of the Severn has captured his soul and now possesses the key to his life — a small candle stub. Hafren taunts and torments Meurig but with help from Conor and Sara, he CAN take back his life from her watery grasp — at the cost of flooding the land. Meurig must make his choice — his life or the village….
The Lammas Field — (1999) 9-12. Publisher: Mick’s father manages a 17th-century house and grounds where a festival is held each year. This year, a woman comes to sell herbs and candles. When she helps Mick with his music, his friend Katie begins to realize that she is drawing him into the Otherworld.
Corbenic — (2002) Young adult. Publisher: Cal has struggled to cope with his mother’s drinking and her psychotic episodes since he was six; cooped up in their dirty council flat he dreams of a new life. So when he leaves to live with his uncle Trevor in Chepstow he is ruthless about breaking with the past, despite his mother’s despair. But getting off the train at the wrong station he finds himself at the castle of the Fisher King, and from then on moves in a nightmare spiral of predetermined descent into a wasteland of desolation and adventure, always seeking the way back to the Grail he has betrayed. Catherine Fisher has created a gripping and highly moving novel that moves between myth and a contemporary journey of self-knowledge until one becomes indistinguishable from the other. Drawing in Arthurian themes, historical re-enactments and the Four Hallows, Cal’s quest for a return to peace of mind is an elaborate and ambitious Grail novel for our time.
Snow-Walker — (2003) Ages 9-12. In the UK this was published in three volumes: 1. The Snow-Walker’s Son 2. The Empty Hand 3. The Soul Thieves. Publisher: Since Gudrun came from the frozen mists beyond the edge of the world, the Jarl’s people have obeyed her in hatred andterror. But the enchantress has one weakness: a son, Kari, banished to a forbidding fortress in the north, never seen by the Jarl’s people. In secret they wonder: Are the rumors true? Was he born a monster? Now Jessa and her cousin Thorkil have been exiled to the north, and if they survive the journey, they will find the truth: Is Kari a beast? Or the means to stop the sorceress?
The Glass Tower — (2004) Ages 9-12. In the UK this was published in three volumes: 1. The Conjuror’s Game 2. The Candle Man 3. Fintan’s Tower Publisher: Alick wonders where Luke Ferris gets his healing powers, why he has six fingers and what his connections are with the sinister goings-on in Halcombe Great Wood. Unwittingly, Alick unleashes dark and terrifying forces on the world.
Darkhenge — (2005) Young adult. Publisher: Rob’s younger sister, Chloe, has been in a coma for three months, and his life is in disarray. To distract himself and avoid his grieving parents, Rob takes a job at a local — and mysterious — archaeological dig. There an ancient tree has been discovered, growing upside down — a tree that leads to the Unworld, the kingdom a seemingly happy and healthy Chloe presides over with no desire to return to her old life.
Crown of Acorns — (2010) Young adult. Publisher: A teenage girl with a past arrives in a city: new name, new identity, new foster family. She has chosen the city herself, and is fascinated by its harmony and beauty, but is clearly in fear of being discovered. She is nursing a secret from her early childhood, a secret that produces new terrors for her the moment she fears her identity has been spotted. A parallel narrative is that of a young architect’s apprentice, Zak, in 1750 — working with Jonathan Forrest, a man obsessed with past Druidic mysteries, and with a new architectural vision for the city. He plans to create the world’s first circular terraced street, the King’s Circus — a plan greeted with scorn and derision. But Zac soon realises there’s more than just an obsession with an architectural vision; some secret associated with the building of a hidden chamber in the centre of the Circus. But Zac himself has his own confused and highly destructive agenda …These narratives are framed by the voice of Bladud — mythical first builder of the city, destined to die in trying to fly — and ultimately brings them together in a clever and brilliant climax.
The Ghost Box — (2012) Young adult. Publisher: Sarah finds herself responsible for freeing the soul of a frustrated ghost, who will punish her if she fails. Everything depends on her unlocking the strange silver box that appeared in her room one night. But will freeing the ghost turn out to be a huge mistake? And why is Matt, her weird Goth stepbrother, so interested in the box?
Darkwater — (2012) Young adult. Publisher: What would you sell your soul for? Sixteen-year-old Sarah Trevelyan would give anything to regain the power and wealth her family has lost, so she makes a bargain with Azrael, Lord of Darkwater Hall. He gives her one hundred years and the means to accomplish her objective–in exchange for her soul. Fast-forward a hundred years to Tom, a fifteen-year-old boy who dreams of attending Darkwater Hall School but doesn’t believe he has the talent. Until he meets a professor named Azrael, who offers him a bargain. Will Sarah be able to stop Tom from making the same mistake she did a century ago? This is smart fantasy mixed with elements of horror from master storyteller Catherine Fisher. She says, “Darkwater Hall is an image of the power and knowledge we all desire. But what will we pay for them, and are they worth the price?”
Obsidian Mirror — (2012) Young adult. Publisher: The obsidian mirror. Its power is great and terrible. Men have been lost in it, the dead brought back to life through it, and the future annihilated by it. Or this is what will happen unless the mirror is destroyed. Three people seek the mirror: the first has been sent from the future to shatter its power; the second will protect the mirror at all costs, obsessed with its power; and the third needs the mirror to find a murdered father and save his life. But only one can succeed. The mirror can send you to the past, but it will not bring you back. This haunting and breathlessly astonishing adventure is the start of a new trilogy from the master of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, Catherine Fisher.