Monday, February 02, 2009


By Cornelia Funke
Translated from the German by Anthea Bell
Publisher by Scholastic
Published in 2007
(First published in the UK in 2003)
ISBN-13: 9780439709101
565 pages

Page 1: "I'm sure it must be very comfortable sleeping with a hard, rectangular thing like that under your head," her father had teased the first time he found a book under her pillow. "Go on, admit it, the book whispers its story to you at night."

I must admit when I was a young girl, I slept with my books. I would tuck my Nancy Drew mystery (or any other book) and slid an arm under my pillow to prop it up a little bit while at the same time felt for it to ensure that it was still there. So when I read that sentence at the start of Inkheart, I got really excited. I am sure a lot of booklovers are like that as well. Come on, admit it. *GRIN*

I read Cornelia Funke's Inkheart while on the way to Cherating during my East Coast Chinese New Year trip (see Day Four), finished half then and everything else the following day. It was a daunting thought when I first began reading the book due to its sheer thickness of close to 600 pages. The good it did was that I was distracted from the heat and the blazing sun--in a moving car (my husband's driving), travelling several hundreds of kilometers--because I immersed myself in the story.

Let's get back to the book. In Inkheart, Meggie’s father, Mortimer Folchart (Meggie calls him Mo for short), has a peculiar ability. Characters literally come to life when he reads aloud from books. One day, he reads from Inkheart and several of the book’s wicked characters 'crashed' into his cottage. Actually, that is not the first time he discovered his power. He knew he had that ability when Maggie was just a baby. When the mayhem is over i.e. after he read Capricorn (the baddie) and some of his men out of the book, he discovers something even worse, he had read his wife into the story! So the modus operandi is this: when something is read out, something has to go in as well. Meggie never knew what happened to her mother, but only the vague remark by her father saying she went away.

The twelve-year-old Meggie does not know that her father possesses this power. She also does not question why her father never read aloud to her, at least not until it is brought to her awareness by the bad guys. Capricorn has searched for Mo for years and calls him Silvertongue. He has 'plans' for Mo and to accomplish his dark goals, uses Meggie to force her father into compliance--that is, reading out loud.

Other important characters such as Dustfinger (a talented two-faced guy who plays and performs with fire); Meggie's bookworm aunt, Elinor; Fenoglio, the author of Inkheart; and even Dustfinger's horned marten named Gwin, make the story all the more engaging. Elinor and Fenoglio are dragged into the mess and suffer terrible consequences, especially Elinor. Poor, poor, Elinor and her books... Do read Inkheart to find out what happened.

This is a good story and one that keeps the reader engaged until the end. I firmly believe that booklovers will appreciate it even more and would understand the obsession with ink and paper. I love the ending. And now I look forward to reading the second book, Inkspell, in the trilogy.

Oh by the way, I still like sleeping with my books but only if they are happy stories (for example, Bedtime for Bonsai). Hannibal Lecter will not make it to bed with me, this much I can say to you.

NOTE: The movie version is adapted very differently and I am troubled by it. If you have not read the book, chances are, you might enjoy the movie. I commented about it earlier here.