Published by Penguin on February 8th 2011
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells and corridors, but metal forests, dilapidated cities, and wilderness. It has been sealed for centuries, and only one man has ever escaped. Finn has always been a prisoner here. Although he has no memory of his childhood, he is sure he came from Outside. His link to the Outside, his chance to break free, is Claudia, the warden's daughter, herself determined to escape an arranged marriage. They are up against impossible odds, but one thing looms above all: Incarceron itself is alive . . .
“It’s not only the inmates who dream of escape…”
Finn has always known Incarceron, the prison with a mind of its own. Three years prior, he woke up in a musky, damp cell that smelled of the unknown. When a woman who may known information about his identity and the mysterious bird tattooed on his writs dies and a key to match lands in his possession, things begin to change. The thing that is most likeable about Finn’s character is that he does not let the prison take away who he is, even though he is not entirely sure who that is. When Attia, a dog-person, joins their travels, he treats her like an equal when Keiro, his blood brother, advises against it. It’s difficult to keep promises within the metallic and life-like walls of Incarceron, but Finn is adamant and true to his word no matter what is thrown at him.
In another world, Claudia, the Warden’s daughter, is betrothed to Casper, Queen Sia’s son. Although he wasn’t the first royal that she was supposed to marry. Three years prior, Prince Gilas died in a mysterious horse riding accident, which begins to seem suspicious when sources come to her and speak of treason. After weeks of planning and with the help of Jared, her tutor, she breaks into her father’s office and snatches a key that opens the mysterious—and what she believes to be—paradise that her father guards. In many stories structured such as this, the heroine is completely selfless and kind to everyone. That is not the case with Claudia as she knows her place and, most the time, is not fond of it. The only person she confides in being Jared, the one who has acted as a father figure to her since her father is absent a high percentage of the time. At first, Claudia’s journey begins with her desire to not marry the Casanova she detest, whose only goal is to get an heir so that he can have as many lovers as he pleases. As she learns more of the dangers and true shadows that lurk in the corners of Incarceron, her ultimate goal is to save Finn and freeing the kingdom of Queen Sia’s rule.
“There’s no room for weakness in Incarceron. No Mercy for a fatal flaw. Here it’s either killed or be killed.”
At first, I had a difficult time getting into this book. It had its slow moments but exciting moments as well. There would be pages where I would pick up the book and contemplate not finishing it, but, suddenly, I’d come across a part that reminded me why I continued to read. It is an adventure story, and for lovers of a good romance, there is not a lot involved. Most of the communication between Finn and Claudia, the ones who have couple potential, is through the keys. However, for lovers of adventures and not knowing what is going to happen next, there is plenty of that. The end of the novel leaves you wondering and curious about the small details that quickly become big details. The sequel is definitely on my TBR pile, though, because I am curious about the rest of the characters, where and how the story will continue.
“Do you see the key to Incarceron?
Look inside yourself. It has always been hidden there.”