Friday, April 27, 2012

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke's Reckless takes place mostly in a Mirrorworld of grim fairy tales, where Sleeping Beauty died waiting for her kiss while more than one mummified prince moldered in the thorn bushes. It's a novel of few notes, but all of them true.

In the real world, Jacob Reckless’ father disappeared, and Jacob became the man of the house too young. Then he discovered the Mirror in his father’s study, that allowed him to escape his mother’s grief and his little brother’s neediness. He spent as much time adventuring in the Mirrorworld as he could, until he and his brother were both grown and their mother passed away.

Now, Jacob’s younger brother Will stumbles onto the Mirrorworld for the first time, drawing his girlfriend Clara behind him. They think they’ve discovered a beautiful fairy tale, but only Jacob understands the dark consequences of their mistake. The Mirrorworld has always been dangerous, but now it’s also in the middle of a civil war, as the long-despised stone-skinned Goyls are given new strength from the Dark Fairy, and the merest scratch of a Goyl’s claw can transform human skin to stone.

Funke’s book does not delve into the real world lives of Jacob, Will, and Clara: it maintains its fairy tale focus all the way through, playing on archetypes rather than specifics. Jacob's life in the Mirrorworld comes across as grim and empty, so that it seems he fled his real-world home for an adventure with as much meaningful human interaction as a video game. The characters develop only slightly over the course of the book, and if there is a happy ending, it’s the bittersweet kind.

Nevertheless, it’s a beautifully written dark fairy tale, which might appeal to fans of the movie Pan’s Labyrinth. Funke (FOON-ka) is a German author whose writing for children has been very well received in the United States, where she is perhaps best know for her Inkworld trilogy. Reckless is categorized as Young Adult, but will appeal to adult fans of fantasy as well.

--Posted by Stacy

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