The success of the Harry Potter series seems to have created a spurt in the growth of Young Adult (YA) Fantasy literature. Numerous writers (some good and some not-so-good) have piggy-backed on this formula.
And one of them is Cornelia Funke – author of the Ink series. The series consists of the following novels:
The premise of the book is :
The hero Mo can bring characters from a book to life when he reads a book out aloud. However, when he does bring someone out of a novel, something in the real world has to take its place in the book.
When Mo’s daughter was three, he was reading to his wife from a rather rough fantasy book called Inkheart. Three grown men from the story appear while Mo’s wife, a futon, and a stuffed animal disappear from the living room. Mo goes into hiding, because the men he read out of the story are the very evil bad guys from the book, and he makes it his life’s work to try to read his wife back out of the book. The bad guys are after Mo because some of them want to get back into the book, while others want him to read out treasure from different stories.
The story starts off a little slow, but then builds up into a good climax. The characters are a little simplistic but I suppose it is done deliberately based on the target audience. My favorite characters turned out to be the main villain Capricorn – so called because he was born under its star, and Dustfinger. Dustfinger is one of the best etched characters in the novel, and he and his protege (Farid) actually provide all the interest in the novel. Dustfinger is not the bad guy, but he is not the good guy either. He just makes his moves based on his self-interest. The shades of grey in his character and the pathos of his situation (he is in love with Mo’s wife, and he has been read out of the book and cannot return back even though he wants to) actually make the novel far deeper and more interesting. The hero and his family are pretty much cardboard characters and not at all interesting.
What I was expecting when I opened the novel was something on the lines of “The Golden Compass” series by Philip Pullman, which is complex enough for adults to also read and enjoy. However, Inkheart is definitely for the pre-teens to late teens age group with not too much for adults.
Even the literary references (and there are many here) are to books enjoyed by children such as Peter Pan and Treasure Island. However, I must say that I liked the quotations at the beginning of each chapter from other classic novels. They were very relevant to the actual content of the chapter and also they were from some of my favorite classic children’s novels.
In my opinion, this is a good start to a series. Hopefully, the other books are more advanced and complex. My hopes are high because I remember that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone also started slowly – setting the stage for the rest of the series.
Also, the various reviews for Inkspell and Inkdeath are pretty good. So, looking forward to continuing the series
Note: The original novel is in German, so some things could have got lost in translation.