Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Jacob Reckless hasn't felt at home in our world for twelve years.  His haven in found beyond the mirror in his father's study; where people live in little villages and cottages, monsters are common talk amongst the town-folk, stone men rule and push for power, fairies are dark and deceptive, and the Empress of Austry is a treasure-hunter.  Jacob himself is a treasure-hunter, often working for Her Majesty to find her desires - a wishing table, a glass slipper, a golden ball.  Jacob lives here most of the time, lying to his brother that he is going on vacation, a business trip, a trip to see a friend in need.  He loves his brother, but too much pain lies outside of the mirror, where both of his parents are dead and his life is falling apart.  And all is well on this side of the mirror.  It is dangerous, yes, but Jacob has nothing to lose...  Or so he thinks.  Because of a simple mistake, Jacob's brother Will has followed him over.  And what's worse is Will has been clawed by a stone man, a Goyl, and now Will's skin is slowly turning to stone.  Jacob must do everything he can before his kind and gentle brother turns completely into a stone man, heart and all.

I've loved Cornelia Funke's books ever since I read Inkheart "that fateful day" a few years ago.  Since then, I've read everything of hers I can get my hands on.  Almost every book has been absolutely incredible; only one has been a disappointment (Dragon Rider).  I preordered Reckless six months ago, hoping it would be another classic like the Inkbooks...

In a way it was wonderful, and in a way it was not.  I'll list the bad first.
First thing:  I didn't love the translation.  I wish wish wish Anthea Bell had translated this one (she translated the Inkbooks), but it was Oliver Latsch.  I like his stuff, but sometimes his wording is funny and doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  Second thing:  Cornelia's books may be labled as "children's books", but don't believe it.  I can't imagine letting my child read this book.  I think a good age to start at is 15.  For one this is a very dark story (much of it is derived from the Grimm's fairytales); it also has some sensual scenes invovling men and the fairies they have fallen in love with.  The fairies, as stated before, are dark and deceptive, but also very seductive.  Jacob and the king of the Goyl love two different fairies, both of whom aren't always faithful.

And then comes the good...
Cornelia is a master at weaving a great story, from start to finish.  She draws power from folklore and her favorite stories, but she is also incredibly original.  Reckless was just so.  While it could have been a terrible retelling of Grimm's fairytales (what it was built on and after), it was a wonderful example of taking from the classics without copying them.  Another very good aspect of Reckless is that Cornelia is not afraid to give her characters pain.  It is what real stories are made of, and this author definitely knows how to toy with her reader's emotions for the characters by making them endure hardship.  This is much of what kept me into the book the whole time.  Sacrifice and hardship make books so much more real.

So, in all, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next one (she plans on writing at least two more books about Jacob Reckless and his world beyond the mirror).  And while this is a novel worth reading (although not a classic in my opinion), it is not for everyone, especially not for children.

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