Bewildering Stories

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Book Review:
Cornelia Funke, Inkheart

reviewed by Jerry Wright

Inkheart Cover
Author: Cornelia Funke
Pub: The Chicken House/Scholastic
Hardback: June 22, 2004
Length: 544pp
ISBN: 0439531640
Price: $19.95

I picked up a copy of Inkheart knowing absolutely nothing about it, but the cover drew me in. I read the jacket flap, as I do normally, and it talked about Dustfinger, Silvertongue (known to his daughter Meggie as Mo), the evil Capricorn, and the fact that somehow, Dustfinger and Capricorn had escaped from a book. Strange concept.

Cornelia Funke is a German author who is the third most popular children's author in Germany, behind the infamous J.K. Rowling and R.L. Stine. Good company to be in. I enjoy reading a well-written juvenile, especially one that is over 500 pages long, because a book that long has the high probability of following Heinlein's dictum on writing juvenile novels: "Take a young protagonist, write the best story you can, and leave out all the sex and bad words, and you'll have a saleable juvenile." Happily, this book meets those qualifications.

Meggie is twelve-year-old girl whose father is a refurbisher of books. Her mother disappeared when she was three, but she and her father, whom she calls "Mo", have lived a pleasant life enriched by a love of books and reading. Then one day a disreputable looking character named Dustfinger appears in their lives, calls Mo by the name of Silvertongue and tells him that Capricorn is after him and wants the book.

With that, their lives are changed forever.

Inkheart is the name of the book Capricorn is looking for, and Inkheart is a description of the kind of person Capricorn is. I imagine the book reads well in German, but I know for a fact that the translator has done an estimable job of creating an English version of Inkheart.

Once again, you can read other reviews to get the plot of the book, but I'd rather tell you of the quality of writing. Ms. Funke knows how to spin a fantasy, and yet, her characters are real. And more dangerous because of it. Be glad YOU don't have Mo's ability, or who knows... Capricorn is bad, but there are worse characters who could be released from a book!


Copyright © 2004, Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories

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