Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Inkspell, by Cornelia Funke

(hb; 2005: second book in the Inkheart trilogy. Translated from the German by Anthea Bell)

From the inside flap:

"Although a year has passed, not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of Inkheart, the book whose characters came to life -- and changed her life forever.

"But for Dustfinger, the fire-eater brought into being from words, the need to return to the original tale has become desperate. When he finds a crooked storyteller with a magical ability to read him back, Dustfinger leaves behind his young apprentice Farid and plunges into the medieval inkscape once more.

"Distraught, Farid goes in search of Meggie, and before long both are caught inside the book, too. There they meet Inkheart's author, Fenoglio, now living within his own story. But the tale is much changed, and threatening to evolve in ways none of them could ever have imagined. Will Meggie, Farid, and Fenoglio manage to write the wrongs of a charmed world? Or is their story on the brink of a very bad ending?"


The second book in the Inkheart trilogy is a worthy sequel to Inkheart. Set mostly in Inkworld, an alternate realm created by the writer Fenoglio, it has all the excitement, pathos and great characters -- plus new ones: the Black Prince (with his attendant black bear) and Jink, another horned marten, are especially fun. Inkspell's downfalls are that the few plot-twists it contains are too obvious (not that Inkheart's twists weren't obvious, at least to an adult reader, but they weren't annoying like those in Inkspell), and that certain characters (especially Fenoglio) occasionally suffer from uncharacteristic plot-convenient bouts of stupidity.

But these are minor complaints. Ninety-nine percent of this story and its characters thrill, its pacing is flawless, and it ends at a solid, pseudo-cliffhanger transition point, that undoubtedly will leave most readers eagerly awaiting the third novel, Inkdawn, which is set for Stateside publication sometime this year (probably about the time that the Inkheart movie comes out).

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