Author: Cornelia Funke (translated from the German by Anthea Bell)
Pub info: Chicken House / Scholastic, 2005; 635 pp
Genre / Audience: fantasy / ages 9+
Caveats for Younger Readers: a fair bit of death by swordpoint, but not too graphic; book will be too long for some
The captivating sequel to Inkheart, the critically acclaimed, international bestseller by Cornelia Funke, an author who is emerging as a truly modern classic writer for children.My impressions:
Although a year has passed, not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of Inkheart, the book whose characters became real. But for Dustfinger, the fire-eater brought into being from words, the need to return to the tale has become desperate. When he finds a crooked storyteller with the ability to read him back, Dustfinger leaves behind his young apprentice Farid and plunges into the medieval world of his past. Distraught, Farid goes in search of Meggie, and before long, both are caught inside the book, too. But the story is threatening to evolve in ways neither of them could ever have imagined.
The marvelous characters that Cornelia Funke brought to life in Inkheart continue to captivate the reader of Inkspell. This book does a very handy thing that other authors/publishers should take note of: It provides a cheat sheet in the front to reintroduce the characters. Since it had been several years since I'd read the first book in the series, I found this indispensable.
My only complaint with the book is its length. Despite Harry Potter--those doorstop tomes we wordy writers always like to bring up--it's a lot to ask of, say, a fourth grader to wade through 635 pages. At times I was thoroughly engrossed in the story; at other times, I was frustrated and wanted it to move along more quickly. Part of this was just my own bias. Sometimes a marvelous book that you've been looking forward to for months--in my case, Lauren Oliver's Rooms--arrives in your mailbox and you just want to put down Inkspell and have at it. But even discounting that bias, I would say that shaving 100 pages off of this book wouldn't have been a bad idea.
Still, that said, the story is marvelous, the world building complex and fantastical, and anyone who loved Inkheart will be pleased with Inkspell. Caution: It does end on a doozy of a cliffhanger, but no worries; Funke has completed the series and you can pick up a copy of Inkdeath to complete the story.
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