Book Review: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

InkheartTitle: Inkheart
Author: Cornelia Funke
Series: Inkworld #1
Published: September 23, 2003
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating: ★★★★★
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12-year-old Meggie lives with her father, Mortimer, a bookbinder. Mo never reads stories aloud to Meggie because he has a special gift: when he reads a book aloud, the characters come out of the book and into the real world. One night, when Meggie was a small child, Mortimer was reading aloud from a book named Inkheart when an evil villain named Capricorn, his aide Basta, and a fire-eater named Dustfinger escape from the book and into their living room. At the same time, Mo’s wife Resa gets trapped within the book. Twelve years later, Capricorn is on a hunt to find and destroy all copies of Inkheart and use Mo’s abilities to gain more power for himself in the real world. Meggie discovers her father’s secret and, along with the help of Dustfinger and Meggie’s eccentric aunt Elinor, fights to free her father and destroy Capricorn.

“Writing stories is a kind of magic, too.”

Oh, this book. Where to begin? I first read it in 2007 and I LOVED IT. It was a favorite of mine, right up there with Harry Potter. I recommended it to my mom at the time, and she listened to it on audio (which is done so well, by the way) and I listened to it with her. I have been wanting to read it for the third time since it’s been so long. I’ll be honest — I was a bit apprehensive because it’s been over a decade since I last read the book, and I was afraid that my opinions might have changed over time.

They didn’t. This book was just as enjoyable and the world was just as enchanting as it was the first (and second) time that I read it.

The characters were so well developed and had such strong personalities (my personal favorite is Elinor because she’s hilarious). The villains were merciless and evil, yet they had just enough of a backstory to help us understand how they got to be the people they are. I am typically rather partial to villains in stories, but Capricorn was never a huge favorite of mine. I think I preferred Basta.

I will say, however, that the characters’ physical appearances weren’t described all that well.  For example, Elinor is called “that fat woman” a few times by Capricorn’s men, and I felt kind of taken aback by that description because I hadn’t thought of her as being overweight before.  Perhaps that’s just because I don’t picture her as fat — I see her as more of the wiry, high-energy type. Another example of this is Basta. I always pictured him as a large man, but almost at the end of the book, I realized that he was tall and thin. I could be missing something there, but I remember having the same issues last time I read the book.

It’s important to remember that this is a middle-grade novel, so don’t expect something that it’s not. But personally, I think that Funke’s writing is incredible. She has the unique ability to immerse the reader in the story to the point where it doesn’t seem like reading at all. She makes you feel things, too — fear, sadness, jealousy, relief, love — it’s all there.

One of my favorite aspects of this Inkheart was the running theme of books. Mo is a bookbinder and both he and Meggie are avid readers. Elinor is a book collector and has dedicated her life to finding rare and unique books to add to her personal library. Even without the rest of the plot, this part of the story was so delightful to read. This book was — and still is — an all-time favorite of mine and I can’t recommend it enough.

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