Sapphique is the sequel to last year’s Incarceron, which was one of my favorites of the year. Catherine Fisher doesn’t disappoint with this follow-up. When the first book left off, Finn had just managed to escape from the prison, but had to leave his Oathbrother Keiro and companion Attia behind. Sapphique moves at a breakneck paces, switching every chapter from the characters in the Realm (Claudia, Jared, and Finn), and those still locked inside Incarceron. Sapphique manages to add even more depth to the world it takes place in, and the characters are really forced to step up.
Upon opening Sapphique, I was thrilled to find out that the book opened with Attia, the former dog-slave who Finn freed. She was do downtrodden in the first book that it was wonderful to see her given time to shine in this one. Attia is working a long con with Keiro, trying to get the magical glove of the legendary Sapphique. The glove is said to give one the power to escape Incarceron, and it’s their only way of getting out and finding Finn. I loved the time we spent with Attia and Keiro – Finn and his visions overshadowed them both in Incarceron, and to see them both without Finn is much more interesting. Keiro and Attia don’t really like each other, but they stick together because they both love Finn: Keiro love him as a brother, and Attia loves him romantically. And despite Keiro’s protests, it’s clear that he’s become pretty fond of Attia. As she likes to remind him, she did save his ass a few times already. One of the best scenes in the book is when the pair run into an all-female tribe of prisoners, and Attia has to pretend Keiro is her slave so that they don’t execute him. Cocky Keiro is forced to take it down a notch and accept that he needs Attia. I love their banter, and I can’t wait to see who plays them in the upcoming movie.
Back on the Outside, Finn is very broody all the time and Claudia is generally plucky and indignant. Yet somehow, Fisher makes them likable. I attribute this to her writing. She makes sure to give us moments where we can be sympathetic with each character, while they also have their flaws and their selfish moments. I was also really pleased that there wasn’t much of a romantic side to Claudia and Finn’s relationship. I expected it to be laid on heavy in this book after they finally met in the last book, so it was kind of refreshing not to have them jump into a tumultuous relationship.
I was really impressed by the writing and superb world-building in Incarceron: the Realm with its forced anachronism, Incarceron with its forests of metal and half-men. Sapphique does even more, showing us different wings of the prison and introducing possibly the most terrifying creature ever, the Chain-Gang. The Chain-Gang is a group of men who are all conjoined at the shoulder or the arm or the hip, and connected by flesh and umbilical cords, forming an unwieldy mass of people. They seem to think as one rather than individually, and are only interested in their own survival. Oh, and if you touch them, you’ll be absorbed into the Chain-Gang and become one of them. See, TERRIFYING. Nightmares for days, I swear.
So basically, I love Incarceron and I love Sapphique. I’m actually a little bit sad that this isn’t a trilogy, like every other YA series is right now, just because I would have loved to spend more time in this world and with these characters. But the book wraps everything up pretty neatly at the end. If Fisher did write another book, I’m not even sure where she’d go with it. But she really doesn’t need a second book; there’s no filler in the two books she’s written, and she tied up all her loose ends.
Sapphique is available in bookstores now.