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The Obsidian Mirror

(Chronoptika #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  2,062 ratings  ·  384 reviews
Jake's father disappears while working on mysterious experiments with the obsessive, reclusive Oberon Venn. Jake is convinced Venn has murdered him. But the truth he finds at the snow-bound Wintercombe Abbey is far stranger. The experiments concerned a black mirror, which is a portal to both the past and the future.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 4th 2012 by Hodder Children's Books
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  2,062 ratings  ·  384 reviews

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Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
I knew very little about Catherine Fisher before reading The Obsidian Mirror, only that she wrote Incarceron, which I have yet to read, so it’s safe to say I went into this with no expectations whatsoever, just the usual excitement over a pretty cover. In a nutshell, The Obsidian Mirror is a Middle Grade adventure that combines Science Fiction elements (time travel, to be exact), with fairy lore. Had I realized this in time, I doubt I would have requested it since I normally avoid MG like the ...more

When it comes to Catherine Fisher, pay no mind to me: she's my most favorite, dear author. She could write an entire book describing a turd and I would probably buy it and love it.
Catherine and I are soulmates; she just doesn't know it yet.
Christina (Ensconced in Lit)
I have heard of Catherine Fisher before, and I was interested in reading her work, but this is the first book I've read of hers. And boy, did I love it. Now I have to get my hands on the rest of her books! I received this book from the Early Reviewers program on Librarything in exchange for an honest review.

The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher is an amalgam of different genres, but she does it seamlessly-- we have some paranormal elements with fantasy and faeries as well as some science
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Raising the bar high for epic young-adult fantasy, where your imagination will be taken on the most exciting journey; with dreams becoming reality!

The stunning, magical cover of this book that glistens under the starlight really captures your imagination before you even pluck this book from the shelf. I adore the fantasy genre and I know that Catherine Fisher’s work will be a big hit, as there are so many avid readers of the young-adult genre. What I love about this genre is that it is so
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
** This is an ARC review.
Any excerpts and quotes included are from an unfinished copy
and may change before the final print**

In 2010, before I started blogging, I came across Catherine Fisher's book Incarceron in my local library. I remember reading the cover jacket blurb and being completely intrigued. I checked it out, took it home and totally lost myself within its pages. That book had UNBELIEVABLE world building and incredible surprises inside of it. I remember my then eight year old son
If I had to describe The Obsidian Mirror in one word it would be: rebel. No, this book is not about some revolution but it simply rebels and defiest to be labeled. I really had problems tagging it. Should it be young adult or middle grade? Where would you put Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling or The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman? Well, put this book right there with them.

If you try stuffing The Obsidian Mirror into one genre only, you would run into similar problems. Is it contemporary? Yes, since
I had read Fisher’s Incarceron series and enjoyed it, so I was eager to read this latest book by her. Thanks to Dial and Librarything for the chance to review this book. There were some interesting ideas in here and the book starts out as intriguing. As the story continued though there were too many POVs and the story became fractured and a bit confusing.

Jake is convinced that his strange Godfather Oberon Venn has something to do with Jake’s father’s disappearance. When Jake journeys to
Clare Cannon
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Fisher writes stories you can sink your teeth into. On the one hand they offer well-paced, surprisingly original entertainment, and on the other they raise profound questions for individuals and societies. Unlike any other author I know, Fisher successfully combines time travel, historical fiction and fairy lore, and from this cultured mix draws philosophical reflections on life and happiness. That’s my ideal for a storyteller.

All of the characters are interesting but we identify most with
Whitley Birks
View this review and more at Whitley Reads

Fisher’s writing creates a sense of atmosphere that gives new life to old concepts. The plot isn’t anything we haven’t seen before (someone mucks with time to get their dead loved ones back, it goes awry), but the book isn’t plot-driven. It’s atmosphere-driven. I have to admit, I can’t remember the last time I could apply that description to a novel. It manages to mix the feel of a fantasy, a light-sci-fi, and a dystopian all in one, then sets it in a
Jake has an obsession: to get to the man whom he believes murdered his father, the man who is now his guardian, Oberon Venn. He gets himself thrown out of his boarding school in Switzerland and is accompanied to Wintercombe Abbey by his former teacher, Mr. Wharton. There, we meet Rebecca from the village, Oberon himself, Piers the mysterious manservant/butler/assistant/cook/etc., and Sarah, who claims to be Piers’ niece/an escaped mental patient seeking refuge. We also eventually meet Gideon who ...more
Aug 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There should have been more for this than there will be, but it was lost to my falling into Someone Else's Fairytale. At this point, what I've got is the memory of feeling boredom and frustration just a few pages in, when hit by a wave of Don't Want This. "This" being the typical Catherine Fisher set-up of multiple POV characters, with all of them ranging from unlikeable to deeply unlikeable to untrustworthy. Here it was gold medal-level "this", and the POV characters kept on coming and coming ...more
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll have more to say about later volumes; this series is getting better and better. Catherine Fisher is quite unique in the way she riffs on classic literature. Though her books are considered YA, the more you know about literature, the more you will get out of them. In "The Obsidian Mirror", there are echoes of both "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet", as well as celtic myths of the Sidhe and the summer land. In addition to all this, there is a mirror that can send people through time. ...more
Brenda A
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Honestly this book was a bit forgettable. I finished it a couple days ago and the details are already starting to get fuzzy; I know there’s two female characters but I don’t remember which is which anymore, and one is already generic in my mind because her involvement felt unneeded.

It’s how I felt about the fairy folk too. They were creepy to be sure, but the Summer Queen didn’t seem to add much to the plot of time travel.

It’s the first time I’ve listened to an audiobook in a while so maybe I’
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always love Catherine Fisher's eerie, spooky, Celtic-mythology-with-a-twist novels. Love the introductions to the protagonists - a girl who appears to have broken out of a high security asylum, where she was considered dangerously violent, and a boy who commits increasingly dramatic crimes until he is expelled from his elite boarding school. They both have secrets, and are heading to the same crumbling manor in the English entertaining read.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the record, I'm big fan of Catherine Fisher's Incarceron . I really enjoyed that book, and I had high hopes that this new series-opener would live up to, and/or possibly be even better than, Incarceron.

Unfortunately... it didn't, and it wasn't. If I had to describe Obsidian Mirror in one word, it would be fractured. (Hah, get it? mirror, fractured... broken glass... ugh, bad mirror joke.)

In all seriousness, though, there was just too much going on. On the surface, the blend of real-world,
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Obsidian Mirror kept me interested, but at times a bit overwhelmed.

The premise of the story grabs you right away. Jake purposely gets thrown out of his fancy boarding school because he wants to go live with his "godfather," Oberon Venn. Venn was once famous, but now is a recluse at a remote estate. Jake's father was Venn's best friend and colleague. His father died, and Jake is convinced Venn killed him.

Wharton, one of Jake's teachers, will accompany him to Venn's estate. When they arrive, Venn
Beth Kemp
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This novel, the first in a series focused on the Chronoptika device built around a magical obsidian mirror, features an amazing array of elements. There is magic: in the mirror, in the glamorous and dangerous Shee who live in the grounds of the Abbey; there are also sci-fi elements in the time travel and the hints of a disaster-stricken future. Finally, there is mystery and adventure in spades. As a fan of folklore, speculative fiction and magic realism, I was sure this was a book I'd enjoy and ...more
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-review
I love the idea of time travel as the possibilities really are endless, but sometimes in fiction it just doesn't work out. I am so pleased to say that Catherine Fisher has mastered the art of writing about time travel superbly, I was simply glued to this excitedly brilliant storyline! The characters are fabulously quirky, extremely interesting and never dull! There is so much to this complex book, but the thing that I found most intriguing was the introduction of Lady Summer, Lord Winter and ...more
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, this book is a mess.

But not particularly in a bad way.

I was seriously doubting my choice of book when the main character in the first pages stabbed another kid in a very cold and calculating manner, seemingly for no reason at all. He couldn't care less of what he had done, and I was wondering what kind of psychopath this book was going to be about. But it kinda grew onto me.

Partially, it felt a bit random. There are many changes between charachters, and all of them has different goals and
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was once reading the Wikipedia page about pixies and found out that apparently they are abundant in Cornwall and Devon in England. So it was interesting to read a book that was set in a mysterious Abbey in Devon, surrounded by the wood that houses fairies, kind of like a relative to pixies I guess! I found the description of the fairy world absolutely fascinating –beautiful and magical and chilling to the right degree. I read other stories that took the fairy plot in a more sensual direction ...more
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
What is so magical and fantastic about England and great big old houses? The Lion, the Witch, the Wardrobe. Harry Potter. Lord of the Rings. The magic that is common in each of these stories draws me like a moth to a flame. From enormous castles and decrepit abbeys I find myself wandering corridors, looking at talking paintings and gazing into dark enchanted mirrors. Obsidian Mirror is an astonishing adventure filled with this same magic.

The story focuses on an enchanted mirror that is the
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Note: I won this ARC through First Reads.

Wow. After finishing The Obsidian Mirror last night, that is the only word my lips dare utter. Wow... My brain is still reeling from this fantastical work of fiction that left me breathless and wanting more.

I had never heard of Catherine Fisher prior to reading this book, but let me tell you...after finishing this novel, I will now become more familiar with her work. I have always enjoyed fantasy novels, but often I find that they generally overuse the
Aliyah (Jennifer)
This is my first book by Catherine Fisher that I have read from beginning to end. I have a copy of Incarceron sitting at home that I haven't really touched after reading the first few pages. One thing I noticed in both books is that Fisher doesn't ease you into the story, but rather forces you to pay close attention at the beginning and hooks you several pages later without the reader realizing.

Or perhaps it was just me, but those are the observations I've made about the writing style.

Now to
Courtney Schafer
Wow. Beautifully written, highly imaginative, with sharply drawn characters and a twisty plot - this book is hands-down my favorite YA read of the year so far. I don't think I've ever felt jealous of an author before, but damn, I feel jealous now - if I ever wrote YA, this is exactly the sort of novel I'd want to write. Not in terms of details of story, but of brilliance of execution. I love the way Fisher creates and maintains a sense of mystery, not just with the events of the story, but with ...more
Sandy Eichelberger
Jake deliberately gets kicked out of his elite boarding school with a vow to confront his father’s killer. When he meets this supposed murderer, Venn, he learns his father has actually disappeared and is not dead. Venn’s estate is surrounded by faeries and Venn has a black mirror that can make people travel through time. Complicating the story, there’s a ghostly man with a wolf threatening people and there’s also a man with a scar trying to get to the mirror. Just who is good and who is evil is ...more

The Obsidian Mirror has the ability to let one travel backward in time. In order to properly go through the mirror (and not take years to make it through) one must wear a silver bracelet with an amber stone at it’s center. This is set in a place called Wintercombe Abbey, in the Town of Wintercombe. It is never revealed where this truly is or if it is a real place. It is a very large old house;most likely hundreds of years old. The time in which most of our story takes place is uncertain.The
Apr 28, 2012 rated it liked it

Obsidian mirror is an really interesting read and one of those books I want to reread again soon as I think I'll get as much, if not more, from a second reading.

The book itself is written in such an unusual way. It switches between protagonist and between past and present alongside extracts from documents from the world in which it is set and as a reader I felt very much like I was piecing together a jigsaw puzzle as I went along working out little by little how everything fit together.

Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

As a longtime fan of Catherine Fisher (ever since I first read The Oracle Betrayed seven years ago, I've been hooked), I'm quite disappointed in this book. Far too many elements crammed into one novel = messy storytelling, as intriguing as those individual elements (Shee, time travel, lost parents, djinn, etc.) may be. Also not impressed with the cast of characters. None of them are very sympathetic or well-developed beyond flat archetypes (brooding male protagonist, mysterious girl,
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Catherine Fisher's "Incarceron" and "Sapphique" though I did find the conclusion a bit of an anti-climax. This book, the first part of a new series, is even better: a mixture of magic and science fiction - just my cup of tea.
A boy seeks out his guardian who he thinks killed his father. The guardian is a famous explorer, now a recluse living in an old-dark-house-in-the-woods. There are lots of mythic references here - the guardian is even called Oberon. There's a fairy queen and
Oda Renate
Had to dnf at 145 pages.
It just took too long for anything important to happen in my mind and it was incredibly scary at times, too many questions not enough answers, I dident care about any of the characters.
No, just no.
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Catherine Fisher was born in Newport, Wales. She graduated from the University of Wales with a degree in English and a fascination for myth and history. She has worked in education and archaeology and as a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Glamorgan. She is a Fellow of the Welsh Academy.

Catherine is an acclaimed poet and novelist, regularly lecturing and giving readings to groups

Other books in the series

Chronoptika (4 books)
  • The Slanted Worlds (Chronoptika, #2)
  • The Door in the Moon (Chronoptika #3)
  • The Speed of Darkness (Chronoptika, #4)
“If a speculum is polished sufficiently, it becomes invisible. For it doth reflect all about it, so that the eye sees only that which is shown , not the devyse that showeth it. And if a man becomes hard as diamond, faceted and flawed, he too will show nothing of himself, onlie the fractured images of his world.” 3 likes
More quotes…