________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 18 . . . .May 12, 2006



Cornelia Funke. Translated from the German by Andrea Bell.
New York, NY: The Chicken House/Scholastic (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 2005.
647 pp., pbk., $24.99.
ISBN 0-439-55400-4.

Subject Heading:
Magic-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

*** /4



“I know, Meggie,” said Mo at last, in a low voice. “I know you think the world that book describes is much more exciting than this one. I understand the feeling. I’ve often imagined being right inside one of my favorite books. But we both know that once imagination turns to reality things feel quite different. You think the Inkworld is a magical place, a world of wonders - but believe me, your mother has told me a lot about it that you wouldn’t like at all. It’s a cruel, dangerous place, full of darkness and violence, ruled by brute force, Meggie, not by justice.”


Inkspell is the sequel to Inkheart which featured two worlds - the world of reality and the world inside the book titled Inkheart. Some people have the magical power of being able to “read” themselves and other characters in and out of the pages of this book. Meggie Folchart can’t stop thinking about this very special book, and it has been a year since the characters in the book became real. Her mother, Resa, once a prisoner inside the book, is now back at home with her father, Mortimer (Mo), the bookbinder.

     Inkspell begins with a exciting start - Farid, the apprentice to the fire-eater, Dustfinger, appears and begs Meggie to “read” him back into the book. Meggie cannot resist temptation and decides that, even with a scrap of the text, she can rewrite the story just a bit and include herself in the adventure. They are both plummeted into a dark world of magic and misadventures as they meet up with Fenoglio, the creator of this medieval inkscape. Fenoglio is under pressure to write and change the story around so that Cosimo can return even though he has died. And everyone is searching for a happy ending to the story in which The Adderhead runs rampant with his violent gang of fire-raisers.

     In the first hundred pages, the author weaves in the basics from the first book and sets the stage for Meggie’s entrance into the Inkworld. Even though Funke provides a good recap of Inkheart, readers really do need to have read it to enjoy this sequel and to keep the myriad of characters and their nicknames straight. The story really gains the typical dramatic momentum of a Cornelia Funke book when Cosimo is brought back to life. There is great humour as the newly minted Cosimo has no idea of his identity and must ask around for clues to his own character and habits. Mo and Resa have followed Meggie into the Inkworld, but the wounded Mo and Resa are taken prisoner and end up in the Castle of Night.

     There is plenty for fantasy fans to love in this book. The classic struggle between the forces of good and evil is a compelling theme, but the author also meditates on the nature of parallel universes and the nature of “reality.” Each chapter is headed by a quotation from literature, and Funke includes several quotes from Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Like Pullman’s works, this novel can be enjoyed by children, teens and adults as they both create new and imaginative worlds. The author writes beautifully about such interesting ideas like Dustfinger’s tasting of the fire-elves stolen honey which enables him to crackle with fire or the sleeping glass man who looks after the pens in the story. The violence in the book is especially brutal as when Cloud-Dancer, the tightrope walker, is executed by Basta in a very ghastly manner. Death is always close at hand in this perilous world. Bibliophiles will love Funke’s ideas about the meaning of words - the millions of words which make up daily life and the lives of the characters. But wordiness is sometimes a problem in this book as there are several subplots unfolding in this complex story, and the recap of the first book takes away from involving the reader. It has a slower pace than some of Funke’s earlier books, like the riveting and magical Thief Lord. But this said, the characters are very well drawn, and readers will be very anxious to read the third volume in the series.

     This book is beautifully designed. There is a handsome map of the Inkworld with elegant calligraphic headings for the different locales of the Inkworld story. There is a very useful annotated list of all the characters and their nicknames. The title pages for each chapter are decorated with very fine black and white drawings, and sometimes there is an attractive little drawing at the end of the chapter.

      The “Inkheart” trilogy film rights have been sold to NewLine Cinema, the team that produced “The Lord of the Rings” movies.


Lorraine Douglas, a writer and artist living in Sidney, BC, worked in youth services for the Winnipeg Public Library for over 25 years.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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