Life was supposed to be better once Finn escaped the grim prison of Incarceron. He would get his memories back, become the long-lost Prince Giles, and not have to worry about being lost in a world that promised death around every corner. Instead, he is more lost than ever. Claudia, the warden’s daughter and Finn’s betrothed, is pressuring him to become princely practically overnight before the evil Queen Sia orders their execution and throws the realm into utter chaos. As Finn and Claudia struggle to maintain control over the increasingly precarious situation in the realm, Finn can’t help but think of his friends he left behind in Incarceron.
Keiro and Attia, on the other hand, haven’t stopped cursing Finn since he abandoned them in the prison. Finn promised he would come back, but as the months crept by, they were forced to take matters into their own hands. With their only means of escape gone, they resort to following the lead of ancient stories. Legend has it that the only person to ever escape from Incarceron, a man named Sapphique, left a glove behind that could be used to open a portal deep within the heart of the prison. Securing it won’t be easy, and Keiro and Attia will have to battle against someone else who is deeply interested in it --- Incarceron itself.
As Finn and Claudia struggle to find a way to help Finn’s friends, a new threat emerges. Another person steps forward and claims that he is the forsaken Prince Giles and immediately casts doubts to the legitimacy of Finn’s story. Queen Sia and her advisors agree to hold a questioning of both Finn and the “pretender” to decide who the real prince is, and Finn finds himself battling to save his life once again. The “pretender” can recount numerous details from his childhood, knows the ins and outs of royalty, and is more self-confident and assured of his identity than Finn could ever hope to be. And just when he needs her most, Claudia doesn’t know what to believe anymore. Has she been wrong this entire time? Did she take a regular prisoner out of Incarceron, or is Finn the real prince?
Time is running out for everyone. The “pretender” is winning over the queen and her advisors, and Finn and Claudia are sure to be executed for treason. Keiro and Attia are closing in on the glove but are also disturbed by the new changes within Incarceron. It appears as though the prison is shutting down crucial life support systems as it prepares for the unthinkable. Incarceron plans to escape by creating a body for itself, and the only missing piece is Sapphique’s glove. If Incarceron escapes, then no one is safe.
Catherine Fisher raises the stakes in this stunning sequel to INCARCERON. Although Incarceron is the actual prison, many of the characters find themselves trapped in their own self-created prisons, and this theme runs rampant throughout the book as the plot moves swiftly from one twist to the next. Fisher continues to add layers to the already deep and complex world of the prison, and the legends of Sapphique woven through the story are rich and rewarding. Fans will be extremely satisfied with this expertly crafted follow-up as one of the best books of the year.
Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on December 28, 2010