Author: Cornelia Funke
Pages: 560
Publisher/Date: The Chicken House/Scholastic/2003
ISBN: 0439709105
Age Levels: 9 and up

Book Review

Imagine that you are sitting in your living room with your spouse and three-year-old child. You are reading aloud from a book titled Inkheart—a fantasy, filled with trolls, fairies, giants, and characters of all sorts. Suddenly, there appears before you three of the people in the book: an evil ruler named Capricorn, his henchman, and a fellow named Dustfinger, whom the henchman is trying to kill. Your voice "had brought them slipping out of their story like a bookmark forgotten by some reader between the pages." What is worse, your spouse has disappeared into the story.

This is the premise of Cornelia Funke’s latest book, Inkheart. The book begins years after the horrible event. The child, Meggie, is now twelve. Mo, her father, is a bookbinder and has the ability to call characters out of books, a talent he has kept hidden from Meggie. He also kept hidden the fact that Meggie’s mother is now living in the world that exists in the pages of Inkheart. And what of the three characters whom he spoke to life? They are now living—somewhere—in the "real world."

One night Dustfinger shows up on Mo’s doorstep. He has come to warn Mo that Capricorn is looking for him. Mo packs up Meggie and they take refuge at Meggie’s great-aunt Elinor’s home. There is no safe haven for Mo and Meggie, however, at least not with Capricorn intent on capturing Mo and exploiting his ability to read people, and things (such as gold), out of books.

At the plot hurtles toward the climax, there are twists and turns, escapes, betrayals, discoveries, and so much more. Mo tracks down the author of Inkheart, an old man named Fenoglio, in hopes that the author can somehow write a new ending to what is sure to be a disastrous conclusion if Capricorn has his way. For the sadistic Capricorn is set on having a monster even more terrifying and cruel than himself read out of the story and into the world.

Cornelia Funke is a masterful storyteller, and she is at the top of her game with Inkheart. The writing is elegant and imaginative, the characters nuanced and complex, and story itself wholly satisfying. A definite "must have" for your classroom or library.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2004 Education Oasis

About the Author

Cornelia Funke graduated from the University of Hamburg in Germany, where she received a degree in education theory. She then completed a course in book illustration at the Hamburg State College of Design. Following that, she worked as a designer for board games and as an illustrator of children's books, which inspired her to become an author herself. Aside from her novels, Funke works for the German state television channel ZDF. She lives near Hamburg, Germany, with her husband Rolf, her daughter, Anna, and her son, Ben.