I received an advance copy of The Shattered Worlds (Obsidian Mirror) by Catherine Fisher, which is book number two in the series. It goes by the title The Box of Red Brocade in the UK. The book is an easy read and reasonably enjoyable if you are an intermediate reader. The level of reading required is a bit below my typical read but so was the Harry Potter series and a few others that were meant for a younger audience (12+). I think my teenage daughter would enjoy the book if that is any indication.
To be clear, I am reading an uncorrected proof, so I can assume that there will be corrections made before it is released to US readers. I found some of the grammar to be lacking with many inconsistencies in format.
Another weak point is the overuse of descriptors for revisited scenes. There are only so many ways you need to describe the rain at Wintercombe Abby, for example. This felt like an attempt to provide filler to stretch the content of the book as opposed to adding anything of substance to an already established scene. As for other settings in the book, The Summerlands depiction was reasonably good in many places. Gideon’s perspective seemed to be the most concise as revealed through his dialog and narrative (relating Summer’s House to Sarah comes to mind). For the record, Summer is a vindictive and diabolically delicious character that is sorely underutilized in this story.
As for the action in this story, the reader is thrown into the 1940 Blitz over London as we follow Jake in search of his father. As a strong opener for the story, the remainder seems dull in comparison. When the selling point of your book is an era that covers 2-3 chapters in a novel consisting of twenty-five, this is a problem. The story is more of a cat-and-mouse game between characters than the vivid imagery I expected. I also found the snippets of the past (manuscripts, Alicia’s diary, etc) to be more distracting than revealing. Perhaps they would have served a better as individualized chapters. I was more tempted to skim over them than read, unfortunately.
If you haven’t read the previous book in this series, it is safe to say that reading The Shattered Worlds on your own won’t leave you as lost as you might think. You can discern each of the character’s motives regarding the mirror clearly, watching as a dangerous game unfolds between them. Venn wants to save his wife. Sarah wants to destroy the mirror. Jake wants to find his father. That doesn’t include a small handful of other characters who are playing their own part as well.
While I believe the book can stand on its own, I tend to think that the series would have done better as one novel instead of four, which is the planned installment. The premise of the story is easy enough to follow for a teen or young adult, but you will find it lacking if you are a more seasoned reader who is looking for something with more substance and complexity.
In short, The Slanted Worlds (Obsidian Mirror) is a pleasant enough read but lacking in many areas.