The Chicken House, October, 2003.
Hardcover, 534 pages.
Meggie and her father Mo have led a somewhat vagabond existence, going from town to town as her father takes a new job repairing rare books. Meggie's mother disappeared long ago, and Mo refuses to talk about it. And although Meggie and Mo are surrounded by books, Mo will never read aloud to her. But when a mysterious character named Dustfinger shows up one day, Mo's secret is about to be revealed: he can "read" characters out of books into real life. When he read the book Inkheart, Mo accidentally read Meggie's mother into the story, and several villainous characters, especially the vile Capricorn, into real life. Now Capricorn and his gang are after Mo, for Capricorn intends to use Mo's talents to bring terror and darkness into our world. It will be up to Meggie, her great aunt Elinor, Mo and the actual author of Inkheart to find a way to stop Capricorn and bring Mo's mother back where she belongs.
Written originally in German, Inkheart was translated by the talented Anthea Bell who did a masterful job -- much better than the translation done of Cornelia Funke's first book, The Thief Lord. The "book within a book" theme is perfectly executed; Ms. Funke never descends into cuteness. Meggie's great aunt Elinor is especially well-developed. Her character develops quite nicely over the course of the book, whereas Meggie's father Mo can be quite irritatingly passive-aggressive. With humor, wit and an intriguing premise, the lengthy Inkheart is a winner.
Inkheart is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the November-December, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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