From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10–Funke takes readers on a new adventure into a magical place where the dark side of fairy tales holds sway. Jacob Reckless, like his father before him, escapes into the Mirrorworld, and all is well until his younger brother, Will, follows him in and falls under the enchantment of the Dark Fairy. Through an injury, she turns him slowly into a Goyl, a person made of stone. Jacob is determined to rescue his brother and restore him to himself. Accompanied by his companion, a shape-shifter girl/vixen named Fox, and Will's girlfriend, Clara, Jacob journeys with Will to find the antidote to the spell. With a large cast, including a dwarf, powerful fairies born from water, deadly moths, man-eating sirens, unicorns, and the terrifying Tailor with fingers ending in blades and needles, the story includes multiple fairy-tale motifs as the characters grapple with fear and despair while on their seemingly hopeless quest. The action picks up midway through the book and races to an exciting climax. Despite some loose plotting and broadly drawn characters, readers are pulled into the thrill of the story. The themes of guilt, responsibility, abandonment, and love, in the context of the many dangers in the Mirrorworld, contribute to a serious tone. Ultimately the characters keep faith with what matters most to each of them. The fact that the main characters are in their 20s will help to extend its potential readership to older students. Reckless will be enjoyed by Funke's fans, who will be pleased that she has left the door open for a sequel.Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
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Jacob, whose father has been missing for more than a year, is 12 when he discovers how to use the mirror in his dad’s study as a portal to an alternate reality. Chapter 2 picks up the story 12 years later, when his younger brother Will follows him into the mirror’s world, where Jacob has carved out an adventurous life for himself and Fox, his companion. Will’s experience is different: he begins a slow, painful, relentless transformation into a goyl, a living stone man, though his girlfriend, Clara, works with Jacob and Fox to save him. The alternate world is a largely recognizable, European-fairy-tale land, while the goyls add a new element and are used creatively in ways that serve the story well. It’s hard to connect with the main characters, though, perhaps because they are unwilling or unable to communicate well with each other or simply because the author withholds information. Jacob is so enigmatic that some may find him unsympathetic. Story is king here, however, and this adventure-driven fantasy, the first in a series, will have readers turning pages. Grades 7-10. --Carolyn Phelan