The Obsidian Mirror

The Obsidian Mirror 2012

Hodder Children’s Books
ISBN 978-0-34-097008-9

Dial Penguin USA
ISBN 978-0-80-373969-7


I dream of the scarred man. He comes and stands at the foot of my bed, and he is half- angel, half- demon. He says “Don’t try to use the mirror. The mirror will possess you. The mirror will devour your soul.”
He is too late. I have already discovered that. My house is a fortress, locked and bolted and barred. But ghosts and phantoms flicker here, in polished surfaces, in glass and crystal.And someone is watching every move I make.


Jake Wilde’s father has disappeared, while working with his friend, the reclusive and mysterious Oberon Venn, on a strange black mirror that Venn believes to be a time machine. Jake gets himself expelled from school and sent to Wintercombe Abbey, deep in the heart of Devon, to find out just what’s going on.

Meanwhile a girl appears out of thin air pursued by a wolf of Ice and a Replicant from the future.. Sarah too ends up at Wintercombe, where Venn is desperate for the Mirror to restore his lost wife, Leah. Only she knows the terrible dangers the mirror will bring to the world’s future. And in the Wood all around the house live the Shee, and their beautiful, deadly queen, Summer. Who has other plans for Venn….

A mix of fantasy and time travel, with seven identical cats, breathtaking escapes through the cellars and alleys of Victorian London, a mysterious scarred man, and a servant who might be a genie, The Obsidian Mirror is the first in a projected set of four books- The Chronoptika.


I have always enjoyed time-travel stories. The scope for adventure and the lure of the past are irresistible, as are the paradoxes and problems this sort of story creates. H G Wells’ TIME MACHINE is a hugely influential book, and I wanted a time machine of my own.

I also wanted the Shee. The fairies or elemental creatures are a fascinating study and I have often employed them- if such beings can be employed- in stories, and to mix these two genres would be an exciting challenge. Many reviewers and readers have commented on the collision of genres here- it may or may not work, but at least it’s edgy!

The characters , especially, Jake, Sarah and Venn, emerged quite quickly, though others, like Janus, Maskelyne, Wharton and Piers, took longer to form. This is often true of what start out as minor characters; they tend to grow in interest and significance and sometimes even threaten to outshine the protagonists. Summer and Gideon and the whole host of the Shee flew in and settled on the story like starlings at roost.

Then the whole Victorian thread of the story produced Symmes and Moll, and I had fun in that gas-lit, foggy London of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Jekyll.

The abrupt jumps from one narrative to another are always stimulating; I hope they keep the story fast and unpredictable, and don’t just drive readers mad with frustration..It’s also important for me to challenge both the reader and myself, to draw in lots of references, to pack the book with interest and richness.

The Obsidian Mirror is the first in a projected series of four, each of which will be set in a different season, and each will have lurking in the background a different Shakespearean theme, sometimes obvious, sometimes so oblique as to be almost invisible. The whole set will explore themes of fate and time and whether we should change the past if we could, and what that might cost us

And the Mirror?

Well the Mirror is Time itself. The answer to every problem. And the real enemy.


A new novel by Catherine Fisher is always worth looking out for..
The Obsidian Mirror is both thriller and sf and, being written in Fisher’s acid-etched prose, equally satisfying to fans of many genres….Brilliantly disconcerting, scary, and superbly written by the leading lady of British fantasy, this pursues Fisher’s abiding interest in imprisonment and the abuse of power. Full of atmosphere, it’s perfect to curl up with on a winter’s night.
The Times November, 2012

What a gripping start to a book!..This is the sort of book I devour rather than read..With lashings of mystery, time travel and spooky horror, it’s sure to appeal to anybody, child or adult, who likes fantasy and science fiction. .. I thought it was brilliant.
The Guardian December ,

Fisher taps into the universal desire to right past wrongs with a large cast of interconnected characters, all sympathetic in their need for the Mirror, yet disturbing in the lengths they will go to procure it… Fisher effectively alternates brooding mystery with thrilling action. With evil future replicants in pursuit, magical fairies, and characters from all time-lines converging, this blend of fantasy and sf is certified fresh.
Booklist January, 2013

The Obsidian Mirror has one of the most memorable fictional openings I’ve read for a while..the book takes off into a slick, accomplished fantasy with a time-travel motif, centring on the black mirror and a plot to avenge Jake’s father’s death.
The Daily Telegraph, Jan 2013

Another fascinating hero can be found in Catherine Fisher’s The Obsidian Mirror . We meet Jake Wilde as he’s attacking someone with a real sword during a rehearsal of Hamlet;.. he’s burning with the need to hunt down the man he thinks killed his father.. Fisher’s universe is wholly envisaged, from the haughty, frightening Shee to the girl who’s come from the future on a devastating mission. Fisher manages her extensive cast and plot with precision and tension. This is bleak, brittle and brilliant.
The Literary Review, Dec 2012

Clever, complex and sophisticated. Fisher not only interweaves strands of dystopian Science fiction with fairy tale fantasy, but expertly crafts a story of loss with the bittersweet and tantalising prospect of time travel fixing everything. The book is a tangled web and Fisher jumps from scene to scene with cliff-hanger moments.
The School Librarian, Jan 2013

..powerful and exciting story..dark and scary with a fast moving narrative and imaginative characters. A real page-turner.
Carousel, Jan 2013

The mirror has been many things; a gateway in time, a source of power in the future, and the obsession of more than one man. Venn believes he can use the mirror to recover something precious he has lost. Sarah knows that the mirror is capable of terrible things.. Jake Wilde knows only that his father.. disappeared, and is determined to learn the truth.
First in a series, OBSIDIAN MIRROR is a spell-binding maze of mystery-filled pages full of unexpected twists and turns that will draw readers in like a black hole. The narrative follows the cast of intriguing characters, moving seamlessly to give the novel perfect pace. Fisher combines elements from the genres of fantasy, steampunk and dystopian.. fans of Incarceron will be enthralled with this must-read title..
VOYA (starred review), Jan 2013

A schoolboy hell-bent on avenging his father’s death, a time-travelling revolutionary, a changeling ensorcelled in a frozen fairyland,.. five separate story-lines collide during a solstice blizzard at a remote Gothic ruin… No author is better than Fisher at weaving disparate narratives, characters, even genres into an enthralling tapestry, nor at highlighting exactly the right detail to invest the whole with chilling significance.
Kirkus reviews, March 2013

engrossing, enthralling fiction…
New York Times, April 2013

With an impressive cast of intriguing characters and interwoven plotlines this marvellous novel blends sf, fantasy, time travel, mystery and adventure. Secrets, lies and hidden intentions create narrative layers for the reader to unfold, and make each character an enigma… Fisher deftly crafts each scene to create a gradually emerging puzzle with lots of tiny pieces..
Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books (starred review), July 2013