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INCARCERON by 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 ...

This was an unusual read for me. I'm not sure, but I think it would be considered steam punk...
Incarceron is a prison for the undesirables and portrayed as a paradise for the outside world, to soothe their conscience. The prison is a place to contain the evil in men. But men bring the evil from inside themselves, don't they? Incarceron is a dark, scary, mean place. It sorta reminds me of Mad Max stuff like people fighting for survival.
Not only do the prisoners fight against each other, they have to out smart the prison, for the prison has a mind of it's own.
The Warden is on the Outside where a long ago king decided to stop time because if there is no time there is no bad. He has also ordered time to revert back to corsets, horses, and no electricity era. Except a few break those rules, one being The Warden. He has have electricity to watch and run the prison.
The Warden also has a daughter who is to marry a simpering, over-indulged prince who she can't stand. She was once engaged to his step-brother but the step-brother died...or did he??
Interesting twists that I DID NOT see coming and made the story a little over the top but fascinating.
I'm debating whether I want to read the next one or not. Do I want to invest that much time again to a story that is so different and unusual it almost takes me out of the story?
OK. I asked my library to order the next one...

Ratings: PG 13
V: Prison fighting.
L: A few words
S: None

Page 69 test:
"...least half an hour ago, but his impatience was hidden with iron control. If he was impatient. She didn't even know.
Now he said it. "His Lordship and I will ride out this morning, Claudia, and take a brief lunch at one p.m. exactly. Afterward we will resume our negotiations."
Over my future, she thought, but only nodded, noticing the fat lord's dismay. He couldn't' be such a fool as she seemed or the Queen wouldn't have sent him, and though he tried hard, a few shrew comments had slipped out. But he was hardly a rider.
The Warden was aware of that. Hr father had a grim humor.
As she stood he rose with her, meticulously polite, and drew the small gold watch from his pocket. The timepiece gleamed. It was beautiful, digitally accurate, and totally out of Era. It was his one eccentricity, the watch and the chain and the tiny silver cuber that hung from it.
He said, "Perhaps you'd touch the bell, Claudia. I'm afraid we've kept you long enough from your studies."
She went quickly to the green tassel by the hearth and he added without raising his head, "I spoke wit Master Jared in the garden earlier. He looked very pale. How is his health these days?"
Her fingers froze a fraction from the bell. Then she pulled it firmly. "He's ell, sir. Very well."
"He put the watch away. "'I've been considering. You won't need a tutor after your marriage, and, besides, there are several..."


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