Friday, 6 November 2009

Inkspell: Corneilia Funke

Somehow Cornelia Funke has managed to make 'Inkspell' even more magical than it's predecessor, 'Inkheart'. I love the way she does not shy away from the gritty or embarrassing realities of life, even though she is ostensibly writing for children. Thus the body-count is much higher than in the previous novel, largely courtesy of a war between rival princes in the Inkworld. And she throws a little reader discomfort our way too, with the burgeoning love story between Farid and Meggie who is only just a teenager.
Whereas 'Inkheart' takes place in our own world into which a few characters from Fenoglio, the author's, book have been drawn by the Silvertongue (Meggie's father, Mo), 'Inkspell' sees first Dustfinger return to the pages he has been marooned away from for ten years, and then Meggie and Farid follow him. Before long, Mo and his wife Resa have also been thrown into the Inkworld where they discover that Fenoglio is not exactly living the enchanted existence he'd hoped for when read into the book at the end of 'Inkheart'. Indeed, much of the novel focuses on the ways in which a writer's creation gets away from them once they have completed the actual writing. In the Inkworld this has almost disastrous consequences for several characters and ensures a dramatic and chilling conclusion.
Characters shift and change, developing in unpredictable ways and all the while Funke breathes life into the backdrop of the Inkworld with vivid descriptive passages and compelling dramatic episodes. In short, the novel surpasses the first in the series, something I did not believe was possible when I put down my copy of 'Inkheart'. If the concluding part of the trilogy, 'Inkdeath' is as wonderfully dark and addictive as this I might just have to make it my task to read all of her other novels, to see whether she has always been this good or whether the genius of these books is the culmination of all the craft and learning that has gone before.

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