Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Inkspell A Somewhat Satisfying Sequel

(image from Barnes & Noble)

How many times have you been so enchanted with a book that you wished you could step right into it and never come out? More than once, probably. But, what if you could literally transport yourself inside a story? Would it be as magical as you imagined? Or would there be hidden horrors in the book's world just like in your own? If you had the choice between living in a fairy tale and residing in your own time, which would you choose? For Meggie Folchard, heroine of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series, these are not merely hypothetical questions.

In Inkheart, Meggie learns about her father's special ability to read characters into and out of stories. Before long, she discovers that she also has this dubious gift. Although Meggie is enchanted by the idea of entering her favorite story, she soon finds out how dangerous it can be to trade places with fictional characters. After escaping a band of villains from a storybook - also called Inkheart - she suppresses her "gift" to ensure a quiet, peaceful life for herself and her family.

A year later, when Inkspell opens, Meggie is getting restless. Life is good surrounded by her family and friends, but the words of Inkheart have been whispering to her, beckoning her to its world. When her friend Farid appears with troubling news - his master, Dustfinger, has returned to his own story, not knowing that old enemies are right on his tail - Meggie knows her world will collide with Inkheart's once more. Soon enough, Farid knocks on her door, begging her to read him into the book. Meggie agrees on one condition - she gets to go, too. Farid reluctantly agrees, and the two are sucked into the magical, storybook world.

Meggie is fascinated by her surroundings - fairies twinkle past her, water nymphs gaze at her from watery depths, fragile glass men sparkle in the sunlight - which are just as described in the book. They are not the only occupants populating Inkheart, as Meggie soon finds out. Her enchantment with the fairy tale fades as she faces each new horror: the lands are full of blood-thirsty wolves wandering the forest; pale White Ladies reaching greedily for the souls of the dying; and warring princes with hosts of vicious thugs searching for her, the girl-witch with the magical voice.

Meggie's only consolation is knowing that her beloved parents are safe at home - or so she thinks. When rumors circulate of a strange, injured man dying in a gypsy camp, she recognizes her father's description. The superstitious folk mistake him for "Bluejay," a Robin Hood-like figure who steals from royalty and gives to peasants; soon there is a price on his head as well. Not only is Meggie hunted by enemies, but everyone she loves seems marked for death as well.

Desperate, she turns to Fenoglio, Inkheart's author. The writer has been living peacefully in his own book for a year, reveling in the marvels of his creation. Meggie's warnings alarm him, and Fenoglio vows to revise the story into a less threatening tale. His words only seem to complicate matters; soon, Fenoglio is cowering in the shadows with the rest of his outlaw friends. When Meggie and her parents are imprisoned in the castle of the devious Adderhead, she knows the fate of the land rests in her hands. Can she summon the power of words one more time to save the lives of those she loves? Or will the story that has gotten away from its own author be the death of her and all she holds dear?

Although Inkspell has a lot of the magic and excitement of its predecessor, I didn't enjoy it quite as much. Still, it has a swift plot, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the action going. Character development doesn't suffer - familiar cast members are explored more fully, while new ones contribute local color and intriguing subplots. The majority of the book takes place in the land of Inkheart, which gives the book a fun, magical setting. In fact, I only have two beefs with the book: (1) My favorite character, Elinor, spends most of the book locked in her cellar. Although she is with Darius, nothing develops, and not much happens, and (2) I didn't like the ending. I can't explain without giving things away, but I just wasn't satisfied. There is another book coming out, so maybe it will tie up all the loose ends, but still ... the book's conclusion just didn't sit right with me. Other than that, it was a fun, fast-paced read.

Grade: B

5 comments:

  1. hmmm-maybe I'll just avoid the sequel and let Inkheart live on in my mind, lol

    I did my random number thingy to determine the winner for my meme giveaway, and it was you! But I'm not sure if you actually wanted to be entered in the drawing (it was for an ARC of The House at Riverton), so please let me know. :)

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  2. Eva - I forgot about the drawing, but I would love to have the book. Thanks!

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  3. I definitely agree about Inkspell... I didn't quite feel the same magic I did with the first one. Oh well! :-(

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  4. I was kind of disappointed with Inkspell as well. I loved Inkheart with all of my heart (I would love to be Meggie when I grow up!), but Inkspell just didn't do it for me. The last one in the trilogy comes out this year, so maybe it will redeem the ending for me (and you).

    PS I hope you don't mind that I am kind of butting myself in here - I've really enjoyed the few reviews that I've read so far!

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  5. Hello! We love your blog, and you actually inspired us to make one of our own! http://teenbooksthatarentstupid.blogspot.com/

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