by Catherine Fisher
(March 18th 2014, Dial)
The uneasy alliance between Jake, Oberon Venn, and Sarah has, seemingly, ended. Sarah has gone off alone to London to research Mortimer Dee, and find a way to destroy to Chronoptika. Oberon Venn works feverishly on the mirror, trying to bring back his wife and Jake’s father. But when Jake becomes traps in the London Blitz of 1940, Sarah, Oberon, and the mysterious Maskelyne must work together to save him before it’s too late.
The Slanted Worlds is a fun and unique read. It starts, quite literally, with a bang – an explosion during the Blitz – and doesn’t let off until the end. Fisher’s writing is, as ever, evocative, atmospheric, and stylish, and its fluidity keeps it streamlined and easy to read.
The plot is action-packed and intriguing, and alternating chapters from different points-of-view keep the pages turning. The blending of genres here is seamless in that different parts of the story, though really quite different (the Shee, the obsidian mirror and time travel, the future of Earth, etc.), never feel disparate. The concept of the mirror is already a great one, but Fisher adds more complexity this time around, cementing the idea that the mirror has a will of its own – and the ability to make sure that will is done.
Improved character development is really in evidence here. The moral ambiguity of the cast grounds the fantastical tale and makes it all the more impressive when characters act honorably or selflessly.
There’s some really messy recapping in the Slanted Worlds. The cast will often transparently state what they should already know and are unlikely to forget (“You told him you were . . . would be . . . his granddaughter. Even though his wife is dead and he has no children. You tell him that not only is it possible for him to change the past, but that in your time he’s already done it!”), going so far as telling each other who certain characters are (“But she—Summer, that beautiful, deadly, faery creature—she’ll say yes, Sarah, you know she will, just to trap him, and God knows what he’ll have to promise her in return.”). This makes some of the dialogue, especially in the beginning, sound completely ludicrous!
Another problem I had was Fisher’s tendency to melodrama. As the story is already quite a fantastical, this can sometimes take it over the edge into ridiculous, and consequently pull you out of the story.
Janus, the main antagonist, feels flat and unintimidating because he’s so overused and accessible. Sarah literally has a hotline straight to him, and they often chat about the mirror, yet we’re supposed to fear him as the possible bringer of the end of the world.
The ending’s also an issue. It brings some characters full circle – literally and metaphorically – and for less credulous readers, this is bound to be frustrating.
Despite its faults, the Slanted Worlds is an intriguing, entertaining yarn that blends distinct genres to good effect. This is recommended for fans of fantasy, action/adventure, historical fiction, and/or time travel.
Get it at Book Depository.
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