Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jenn's Review: Inkheart

InkheartSummary: Cornelia Funke, the enormously talented author of the international best-seller THE THIEF LORD, brings readers another spellbinding tale of adventure and magic. Meggie lives a quiet life alone with her father, a book-binder. But her father has a deep secret-- he posseses an extraordinary magical power. One day a mysterious stranger arrives who seems linked to her father's past. Who is this sinister character and what does he want? Suddenly Meggie is involved in a breathless game of escape and intrigue as her father's life is put in danger. Will she be able to save him in time?

Review: This is another book off my 2011 To Be Read Challenge that's been sitting on my desk for a few years. I've actually been looking forward to this one to the point where, perhaps, my expectations may have been a little inflated. I thought this fell a little short of the mark. Don't get me wrong, it's a good book, but it's not as spellbinding as I hoped it would be.

For one, the writing is very dense for a children's novel and full of metaphors. It seems a little stiff, formal and rather old fashioned. I actually checked the publishing date because I wasn't sure of the time period from the context.  Yes, almost at the end of this book cell phones are mentioned, but otherwise, this could have been set fifty years ago.  This may have something to do with the fact that it was translated into English from German, but I think it also has a lot to do with Cornelia Funke's writing style.  She does cite J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and J. M Barrie’s Petter Pan as her favorite childhood fantasy novels, so perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised.

The characters are interesting -I can definitely relate to Elinor and her house full of books that she considers family. I probably would have ended up a lot like her if I hadn't met my husband. Meggie is sweet and unassuming, but I felt like the reader doesn't get to know her very well. There are no other children in the story really, and the plot is such that she doesn't have much time to be a child. So the story, though centered on Meggie, has a very mature feel to it.

There is also little levity to be found. Maybe that's why I found myself needing to put it down and take a break from time to time. However, even though it wasn't "unputdownable", the concept was fascinating and had me hooked. I loved that Ms. Funke takes the metaphor of books coming alive and makes it literal. You were never quite sure what anyone's motivation was or who could be trusted.

Inkheart is left a little open-ended, there are two more books in the series, but not so gaping that it feels unresolved. I will be reading the next two books and, now that I know what to expect, I'll see if it changes how I feel about the books. If you are a fan of children's fantasy, you should certainly check out the Inkheart series.

Final Take: 3.75/5

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