Reckless by Cornelia Funke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Cornelia Funke is the queen of dark fairytales. She writes new stories that make you feel as if you've heard them all your life, as if they are centuries old, but with the modern world woven in seamlessly. Funke has created a believable new magical realm beyond a magic mirror. The world of the fairytale is not childlike and simple, but harsh and dangerous and evil lurks around every corner. You also know that the author will not go easy on the characters just because it is a children's tale, and main characters can and do die. Bad things can happen in the real world, and fiction is no different. This leaves you feeling tense and emotional the whole way through the book- genuinely not knowing if they are going to make it through the next danger.
Jacob has been travelling into the world behind the mirror since he was a child and is an expert treasure hunter finding things like rapunzel hairs, a glass slipper and other magical objects. He knows which trees will bite you if they get the chance, which stream is safe to drink from and which will enchant you, and which variety of snail you should collect for it's invisibility slime. Jacob feels more at home in the mirror world than he does in his own world, even though he recognises its dangers. Jacob's brother Will is not so savvy, and as the tale starts off Will has been poisoned by the goyle- an angry warrior race with skin as hard as stone. Formerly sweet Will is slowly forgetting everyone he knows and is transforming into a hostile jade goyle, but Jacob is determined to find a cure for him no matter what it takes. Clara, Will's girlfriend also stumbles across the mirror world and joins them on their quest, along with Fox, Jacob's best friend who can transform between a woman and a vixen and who has always been in love with Jacob. Their journey takes them across the mirror realm meeting money-loving traitorous dwarves, seductive fairies that would enchant them and a whole cast of other characters.
This is a unique and dreamlike story set in a magical world where absolutely anything can happen. There are familiar elements from the tales of the Brothers Grimm woven into this story, and names or stories that you would recognise (such as cinderella, sleeping beauty). It is part 1 of a series, but could work just as well as a stand-alone book. If you are a fan of Funke's Inkheart series (which I loved), or a fairy story retold then I would recommend this. A perfect book for 11-17 year olds, gripping, pacy, dark at times, but with a smidgeon of romance thrown in.
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