44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2004
Although I haven't read the author's previous work, The Thief Lord, I eagerly delved into Inkheart. The book's size, a staggering 534 pages, didn't faze me because the pacing was so expertly achieved. The book felt like it was made of only around 200 pages. Cornelia Funke constructs her sentences beautifully, transporting readers instantly to Elinor's Italian house, Capricorn's abandoned Italian village, and even somewhat Meggie and Mo's house. The characters seem as though they were real, and I enjoyed the charming references to some of Meggie's favorite books, several of which I have also read. One of these amusing references is to Lord of the Rings, referred to as the "hairy-footed people's quest" in Inkheart. This is truly the book lover's book, because unless you've read the book or seen the movie or are extremely clever, you couldn't guess it. This novel keeps you guessing until the very end of the book when the stunning conclusion grabs you and won't let go. I look forward to more stunning works from Cornelia Funke in the future!
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2007
I orginally bought this book for my daughter to read, but I ended up devouring the book in a day. The imagery that the author uses is vivid. The idea that someone could actually read characters out of a book grabbed me right away- truly a Pandora's box.
The plot has a great layout first making you wonder 'just what is this book really about?' The hook is set and the couriosity activated with the musings of Meggie as to her Father's unusual actions and the appearence of an odd stranger that seems to know her father quite well. As more was revealed I was enveloped by the ethical or moral dilema of Mo, Meggie and the other characters on the good team that are in fact responsible for tossing the snowball down the hill in the first place.
I was excited to see the next book in the series and devoured it just as quickly. I anxiously await the next book as well as the movie I have heard is in the making.
If you like a fanasty book set in modern day Earth, like the Harry Potter books (among others) then I highly recomend this book.
86 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2003
From the very first pages of this wonderfully well constructed tale, to the very last page, I was hooked. The words of the author evoke wonderfully clear pictures in the reader's mind and the air of suspense is maintained without terrifying younger readers. I would reccommend this book to any reader from fifth grade to adult. The characters were believable and, as a reader, I cared what happened to them. The reverence for books made it doubly rewarding. ...
135 of 162 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2004
We liked this one even better than Funke's most recent work, "The Thief Lord." Inkheart's premise is even more engaging: Meggie's dad, a bookbinder, is so marvelous at reading out loud that many years ago he "read" the villain Capricorn from a book called "Inkheart" into reality. The villain then kidnapped Meggie's mom. Meggie and her dad must find them and trick them back into the book.
Although Inkheart is a long book (500+ pages), Funke establishes the thrills and the threat in the book's premise almost immediately, on a dark and stormy night and the day following when Meggie and her dad first try to make their escape. The narrative continues to an isolated village in Italy where Meggie encounters a menagerie of minor evil characters who have also escaped from the book.
Meggie is an engaging and spunky heroine that will appeal to both boy and girl readers.
A nice feature of the book is its general love for books - dad Mo is a bookbinder, aunt Elinor is a book collector with a huge library. Clearly Funke is not a lightweight trying to cash in on the Harry Potter fantasy kick; she conveys her love of books and language in a way that will enthuse any reader from 8 to 80.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2007
I am 40yrs old and I don't read. NOT AT ALL!! There was a book fair at my job and as I was looking through the books, I came across a couple of Cornelia Funke's books. The first book I bought was "The Thief Lord" (which is a good book.) After I finished reading it I enjoyed it so much that I bought "Dragon Rider" then "Inkheart" which was recommended by one of the vendors for the book fair. When I started reading Inkheart I couldn't put it down. Since I'm a slow reader, I could grasp all of the details and it takes you on a magical ride. I know kids love it but I will also recommend it for adults as well. If you want to step away from reality sometime, this book is the way to go. The characters are alive and vivid and they really catch your attention. I'm not going to give what happens away, but I think you should buy this book. Definitely a treasure. I recently bought "Inkspell" (the sequel to "Inkheart") and can't wait to get into it.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2006
The premise of this book sounds very exciting - an everyday father reads aloud from books, which he loves and restores, and finds that some of the characters shift into this world, while something from this world gets shifted into the world of the story. Sadly, he loses his wife this way and is left to raise his daughter (Meggie) alone, fleeing from the "evil" Capricorn.
The reader learns all of these facts in exposition, not live action!!! A very important distinction, because this story, while having a great idea, fails to execute it in a way that evokes magic or drama.
The author plainly loves words and stories and is masterful at sensory details, so the first chapters draw you in. But her plot is annoying at best. What you get in the first chapter is the same as the rest - a lot of thinking and talking, but very little doing. Many many many pages are devoted to the characters driving from one house to another, or escaping from a village on foot through trails and bemoaning the fact that it's cold, they're tired, and there are snakes, oh dear, but hey, snakes don't come out at night, so who cares that there are snakes? This is literally explained to us by the characters. Or they spend lots of time shut up in a room, complaining about the lack of freedom.
The problem is the author forgot about story structure. She makes Meggie and her father the protatonists when the theme of the story (displaced characters) is best portrayed by the characters who were shifted out of their world, namely, Meggie's mother and Dustfinger. Dustfinger is by far the most interesting character and the only one with any kind of character arc. I guess the author thought a childrens' book has to be told from the child's point of view, but Meggie is a very passive character. She does very little and knows nothing, having been protected all her life from the truth by her father, who is also completely passive until he's forced into action when Meggie gets into trouble.
The supposedly terrifying bad guy refuses to use his real name, much like Voldemort in Harry Potter, but is unable to think up a more dasterdly name than Capricorn, his astroligical sun sign. Capricorn is the "Inkheart" of the title, but like his chosen name he isn't all that scary. He threatens a lot, but since he always wants something from the characters and needs them alive and unharmed for them to do his bidding, all he does is shut them inside a room. No child is going to be terrified by a guy who only gives people a time out!
His main henchman had the potential of being scary, but we learn his fatal flaw very soon - he's terribly supersitious. Threaten him with a poetic curse and he shudders.
The heroes have no magic beyond juggling tricks and the gift of reading fiction and making things shift from the story into this worold and vice versa. But they have no control over this gift. The characters from other stories are just human, they have no magical gifts.
All of the story takes place in this world, most of it in a deserted village that Capricorn has taken over. It's dirty and lacking any luxury. Definitely NOT the stuff of escapism!
It's as if the author had no idea what age she was trying to appeal to. She makes the book very very long, which is more appropriate for older readers, but keeps the context friendlier than the Lemony Snicket books even though Meggie is all of twelve. There is no mystery to be solved, so no anticipation is generated. Capricorn has no grand plan to take over the world, so we don't really care if he is foiled or not. All in all, there aren't a lot of reasons to spend good money on this book. Definitely buy it used is my recommendation.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2008
This is an amazing story! I never wanted to put it down! I felt like I personally knew all the characters. It was disappointing when I finished it. I wanted it to keep going; to never stop. It is the kind of book that surprises you, relaxes you, and even gives you a knot in the pit of your stomach. I will definitely read it again. I am currently reading the sequel, Inkspell. This book is equally as good as Inkheart, and Inkdeath is on the way!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2004
Cornelia Funke should make a sequel to the book I just read and love, Inkheart. I usually don't like magical books but now I love them! I love the faeries in the hills and the Black Jackets in Elinor's home. From Farid making his first fire to Dustfinger defeating Basta, I love her book.
I read the book in 3 days on vacation in Nantucket. My Mom wanted to do so many other wonderous things than stay in the room and hear me mumble when Meggie and Mo read aloud, wishing I could do the same.
I finished the book on the way back home, on the plane. I kept turning the last blank pages over and over again, wishing there was more and at the same time, wishing there wasn't for I have finished the best written book in the world. Using dangerous characters that had even given me fear when the victims were feared, giving me love when Teresa and Meggie met, and giving me care when Mo was hurt.
Please, I love that book as much as the laptop I am writing on, which I treasure. Give Cornelia all the thanks I send her. Have a good summer and please write more books with alike excitement, sorrow, magic, and adventure you feel in your blood when you read the book.
One of your favorite fans (I do hope),
Megan P. of N.J.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2003
This is a good book but I thought it was too long. The descriptions were sometimes tedious and things didn't happen for long stretches at a time. I wonder if that has anything to do with the translation? I think the premise of the book is great and the title is wonderful, especially as it relates to Capricorn. I had problems with some of the things that went on in the book. Although I'm not advocating more violence in the book it was hard to believe these "toughs" were as mean as they were said to be if they never did away with characters once they found them. They kept on letting them go or just locking them in a cell. I thought Elinor was just too much in love with her books. (And I'm a librarian!) She thought more about them when they were destroyed than the people in trouble around her. I can only assume the wonderful illustrations were done by the author since there was no credit given. I was also hoping the reader would be taken into the world of "Inkheart." I'm not sure if I'll read the next two books in the trilogy but "Inkheart" is a very good book, if a little flawed. I enjoyed "The Thief Lord" much more. (One good thing for me was discovering Lawrence E. Wilson's reviews!! Can't wait to read some of his suggestions!)
162 of 211 people found the following review helpful
The premise of Inkheart, that some have the ability to call out characters from books by reading aloud, is absolutely wonderful. At first, of course, one thinks how great to have such a talent--to call out Bilbo or Willy Wonka or Aladdin, but what if you couldn't then return them to their homes--how tragic and cruel for them. Or even worse, what if you couldn't control your talent, so reading aloud Lord of the Rings might mean you'd get to talk to a hobbit or an elf, but also means you could just as easily be suddenly facing a troll or an orc or even worse, Sauron himself. Adding another achingly sharp layer,
what if whatever was called up from the book didn't simply appear but has to replace someone else in your world so that your best friend or father or mother got sent into the book world?
All of this is great fodder for a novel, opening up literally limitless characters. Unfortunately, Inkheart falls short in the execution. The story's main plot involves the struggle between the 12 year old main character (Meggie) and her father (Mo) and an evil villain (Capricorn) and his henchmen whom Mo accidentally "read" into being years ago, losing Meggie's mother into the book in turn. The villain is bent on turning Mo's talent to evil intent and will stop at nothing to get Mo in his power.
Or at least, so we're told, though to be honest, for all the many sentences about how evil Capricorn is, how sadistic his chief henchman is, by the middle of the book, their actions come across as less "evil" than bullying. Sure there are a lot of threats and abductions and hurling of people into "the crypt", but when nothing more untoward happens and when this sort of thing gets repeated several times, the villains tend to lose their bite. Perhaps this is due to the young age the book might be aimed at, though in that case the earlier descriptions of Capricorn's potential for horror should probably be downplayed as well.
The story begins when Mo learns from Dustfinger (another character from Capricorn's world accidentally brought into ours) that Capricorn has learned of his hiding place and is seeking both Mo and supposedly the only surviving copy of Capricorn's book. Mo, Meggie, and Dustfinger flee to Meggie's Aunt's house, filled with thousands of books. Without giving away too much, there is a betrayal, Mo is abducted as is Meggie eventually. Then there are escapes and then more abductions. The plot seems to circle around the same setting and even the same actions, never spiraling far from repetition, and because the villains are not particularly convincing as villains, the victories and defeats don't create much tension.
Along the way there are a few nice plot turns, such as when the author of Capricorn's book makes an appearance, but predictability returns shortly. The characterization is relatively weak. As mentioned, the villains are not all that believable as villains, and Meggie and Mo, while sympathetic, are a bit two-dimensional. They gain our sympathies more through tried and true plot (the missing mother, the abducted daughter)than through depth of feeling or character. Funke is at her strongest in the creation of her middling characters--Dustfinger, Meggie's aunt, and a young boy pulled from yet another novel in a "test run" for what is to be Mo's big work for Capricorn. These characters, neither wholly good or wholly evil, are more complex and thus add a level of complexity and unpredictability, bringing a refreshing air here and there into the story. They are not enough, however, and in plot, character and final resolution, Inkheart remains mostly predictable and static, lacking the richness of character, story, and description found in Funke's previous effort, The Thief Lord.
If the bad news is that Inkheart is somewhat disappointing in many ways, the good news is that Inkspell, the second book in the series, is in every way worlds better. So while I wouldn't recommend Inkheart as a standalone book very strongly, I would highly recommend people read it and move right on to Inkspell, whose qualities more than make up for the weaknesses of the first book. Therefore, recommended highly not for itself, but for its sequel