Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Inkheart and Inkspell

By Cornelia Funke.

These are pretty good books. I think I read both of them yesterday, and they're both over 500 pages. They're the kind of book where you want to find out what happens next.

Inkheart introduces 12-year-old Meggie and her father, Mo, who never reads aloud to her. Her mother is gone. (Reminescent of the parents in The Dubious Hills, where "gone" also means something ambiguous.) When a creepy man named Dustfinger shows up at their house one night, she winds up in an adventure straight out of a storybook: villains, thieves, fairies and more show up before the end. You see, the reason Mo doesn't like to read aloud is that on a fateful day 9 years before, he read three characters out of a story... and Meggie's mother was sucked in to replace them.

Inkheart is a more stand-alone book than Inkspell, which demands a sequel. In Inkspell, Meggie reads herself into Fenoglio's book (thought to be impossible before she does it) and winds up in a world where there are bigger villains than Capricorn. The resulting story ends right after certain events signaling new things to come, but I didn't find it to be a terribly bad cliff-hanger (perhaps because I was forewarned).

Each chapter in both books begins with a quotation, from books like Watership Down or The Princess Bride, along with others I haven't heard of like The Secret of Platform 13. A lot of them are rather pertinent to the contents of their respective chapters. Inkheart has interesting details about bookbinding and related things (Mo, Meggie, and Elinor (Mo's aunt) all love books), but Inkspell turns into more of a magical adventure. The characters in the Inkworld, despite starting from words on paper, turn out to be lifelike and interesting, taking the story in a direction other than what Fenoglio planned.

I'm looking forward to Inkdawn, the third installment.

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