Review: Inkheart

“If you take a book with you on a journey,” Mo had said when he put the first one in her box, “an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it,” Cornelia Funke.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
534 pages
Genre: Children’s lit, fantasy
Published by Scholastic, 2003
Rating: 5 out of 5 starts
Reviewed by Indiana
Spoiler-free Review

As a child, I can distinctly remember carting this book around. I would happily start it and get about 50 pages in and get distracted by some other shiny book. In total I probably started and restarted Inkheart nine times.

My bookmark is probably still nestled between the pages of my original copy buried deep in a box of my kid’s books.

How foolish I was. This book is pure magic; between Funke’s lyrical writing and the epic plot made especially for the well-read reader, Inkheart is a complete gem that I can’t believe I ever let myself get distracted from.

“Of course, the marvels that you hoped to find might not be waiting inside the covers, so then you closed the book, sorry that its promise had not been kept. But Inkheart was not a book of that kind. Badly told stories never come to life,” wrote Funke.

Indeed, the Inkheart that I was privy to reading (there’s another book called Inkheart within the book) seemed to come alive.

Meggie and her father Mo have lived a nomadic life, moving every time Mo can find work as a book binder or when they get too close to Capricorn and his men. They’re of an evil breed born not of this world but out of a book, called Inkheart, and read into earth by Mo. Though Mo’s talent of reading creatures and treasures out of books is magical, it comes with a heavy price. Everytime he reads something out of a book, something from this world gets sent into the book.

Which is exactly why Meggie’s mother has not been around for most of her life.

Meggie and Mo have finally been able to stay in one place for a long stint, at least a few months, when Dustfinger shows up on rain-soaked night. Though not part of Capricorn’s crew, Dustfinger came out of the story just as they did and is tied to them in more ways than one. He’s desperate to get back into the story of Inkheart, just as desperate as Mo is to get his wife out of the story. But reading it aloud is dangerous, as Mo has no control over who comes and who goes.

Blinded by homesickness, Dustfinger cunningly gets Mo involved with the plot of Inkheart in a way he never intended: straight into Capricorn’s village. It takes Meggie, a book-obsessed great aunt, an author, a few misplaced characters, and a marten to have any hope of getting him out and of giving the story a happy ending.

Part mystery, part fantasy, Inkheart is everything a book loving child (or adult) could want. Even though it was a young adult book, it felt epic and coming in at over 500 pages is quite long for the age group. I’m glad it’ll be the first epic fantasy that some children ever read. It’s definitely a great start. I’m looking forward to the next one, Inkspell.

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