Book Review: Inkheart

Posted Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 5:56pm

Keeping one of my favorite books for the very last, “Inkheart” is a German fantasy written by Cornelia Funke. It was translated to English and has been made into a rather inadequate movie compared to the book. (Isn’t that always the case?) Although many fantasy stories seem to follow the same mundane plot over and over again, “Inkheart” contains twists and turns, surprises and heartbreaks, and will keep your attention to the last page.

Meggie is the daughter of a bookbinder. Her father restores old books, removing a broken or damaged binding and replacing it with a new look. Both Meggie and her father—Mo—are always reading and moving from place to place, finding new books to fix and read. But Mo has never read out loud to his daughter, and Meggie has never known what happened to her mother.

Mo has a gift: when he reads out loud, the characters and items in the book literally come to life. They step out of their stories and into our world. He has read tiny items out of books, but never anything bigger than feathers and stones.

One night, when Meggie was a toddler, Mo was reading a book called Inkheart and read out three people: the villain named Capricorn, his loyal henchman Basta, and Dustfinger, a fire-eater. Whenever Mo reads something out of a book, something must go in as well. Resa, his wife, disappears into Inkheart.

Determined never to be returned to his world, Capricorn has spent the last twelve years hunting down every copy of Inkheart to burn the last of his home. In comparison, Dustfinger wants nothing more than to be returned to his story. Mo wants the book was well, wanting to try and read his wife out from the pages.

With one of the last copies of the Inkheart, Mo is hunted by Capricorn and Dustfinger, both trying to get the book from him. When Dustfinger betrays Mo to Capricorn, Meggie and her aunt Elinor set out to rescue Mo and get the book back.

But thousands of things go wrong with their plan, and Mo is forced to read treasure and monsters out of books for Capricorn. But as he can’t control who comes and who goes between stories, who will be the next one placed in a strange story?

In clever combination of escapes, threats and mysteries sends the group on a long trek to recover their courage against the evil of Capricorn. They come to find out perhaps adventures are not as much fun to live out in real life.

Kirkus Reviews recommends “Inkheart” for “anyone who has even been lost in a book.” The Booklist review comments that “in short, [Inkheart] is a booklover’s book.”

“Inkheart” is a fascinating twist on the “story within a story” plot and Funke brings to life intriguing characters and amazing details. Combined in a trilogy, “Inkheart” is followed by “Inkspell” and “Inkdeath.” The book is not just for fantasy lovers but for anyone searching for an escape out of reality.

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