I feel as though I have been in search of this book all my life. Every word, every sentence and every page spoke to me as if from a faraway land. It was a surprise and nostalgic all at the same time. It was all the books I read as a child and all the magical films I watched over and over again. Inkheart (2003) felt so familiar that I was surprised I could not recite all the lines just as I had always done with my favourite adventure stories. I guess then (in a way) reading this novel was like visiting an old friend – an old friend I’ve never met.
This completely indulgent and delicious tale is a veritable feast for book lovers. The story follows the adventures of twelve-year old Meggie, a reader, her father Mo, a book binder and her aunt Elinor, a book collector. When Meggie meets the allusive Dustfinger who just so happens to be an old ‘acquaintance of Mo’s, her world is turned upside down. It turns out that her father has the power or ability (whichever way you want to see it) to ‘read’ the living into and out of books when he reads out loud. The living includes humans and animals and even the odd magical creature that manages to find its way out of whatever book is being read, and it turns out that poor old Dustfinger is one of these unfortunate characters from a book called Inkheart that ended up in the ‘real’ world’ . This incident years ago also caused Mo’s wife, and Meggie’s mother to be sucked into the world of Inkheart, and try as he might he was never able to bring her back. The guilt and fear that he lives with has caused him to vow never to read out loud from a book ever again.
The heart of the adventure begins when Mo’s copy of Inkheart is stolen. It is then discovered that another character Mo accidentally released from the book, a villainous soul called Capricorn, has taken the book along with every single copy that was still available. His intentions are not favourable and it is up to Meggie, Mo and Dustfinger along with Elinor and one or two special characters to help them retrieve the book and stop Capricorn fulfilling his devious plans.
Meggie’s love of books is also my love of books. Elinor’s love for her books as though they were children is my love too. Reading Inkheart is like reading a book within a book within a book, and you as the reader are constantly aware that Funke wants us to have as much respect for the written word as her characters do.
With a little delving into childhood classics such as Peter Pan, Treasure Island and The Thousand and One Nights, our heroes and heroines become swept up in a story that allows books to be personified, the characters of books to become real (just as we always imagined them to be when we were children) and for the magic of reading and writing to become very, very real!
I am giving this novel a very enthusiastic 5 stars because it is just pure magic from beginning to end. I highly recommend it, and I also recommend getting your hands on the rest of the trilogy; Inkspell (2005) and Inkdeath (2007).
My review for Inkspell: