Author: Cornelia Funke
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Length: 391 pages
Source: Finished Copy from Author
Ever since Jacob Reckless was a child, he has been escaping to a hidden world through a portal in his father's abandoned study. Over the years, he has made a name for himself as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. He's also made many enemies and allies—most important, Fox, a beautiful shape-shifting vixen whom Jacob cares for more than he lets on.
But life in this other world is about to change. Tragedy strikes when Jacob's younger brother, Will, follows him through the portal. Brutally attacked, Will is infected with a curse that is quickly transforming him into a Goyl—a ruthless killing machine, with skin made of stone.
Jacob is prepared to fight to save his brother, but in a land built on trickery and lies, Jacob will need all the wit, courage, and reckless spirit he can summon to reverse the dark spell—before it's too late.
Protagonists: This book follows about four protagonists on the journey to cure William Reckless of the monstrous affliction he receives at the beginning of this tale. First we have our main protagonist, Jacob Reckless who has visited the MirrorWorld on and off for twelve years and knows more about it than most of our other protagonists. Jacob is fiercely loyal to his brother and would do anything to protect him. In a lot of ways Jacob and William Reckless reminded me of Dean and Sam Winchester, from Supernatural, respectively. It was weird the amount of parallels to them I could make, even though their personalities are different, how they treat each other and their bond as brothers reminds me so much of the Winchesters. Then we have Clara, Will's girlfriend from the real world who finds her way into the MirrorWorld and into this adventure to save Will. Clara doesn't get all that much development which I was kind of bummed by, she was kind of just there as Will's girlfriend and I would have loved to see her be a much more multi-layered character. Finally we have Fox, Jacob's vixen companion who knows the MirrorWorld as well as he does. Fox is resourceful and independent and cares deeply for Jacob and by association the rest of their party. I really loved Fox and while I liked that she was more multi-layered than Clara I still would have liked to see her be more of her own character than a sidekick.
Romance: Cornelia Funke isn't the best at writing romance, and that's okay, it's just that I felt as though there was supposed to be more of that endless fairy-tale love in this book and if fell sort of flat. First off, Jacob doesn't really have a love interest, which is fine, I didn't need him to have one. But then there's William and Clara, an established romance that began before this book started. Because of that we never really got to see their love grow and develop it's just sort of a given fact that they're together and in love. Since their love is a semi-important plot point I wish I cared about it or connected to it more than I did.
World-Building: So one of my biggest problems with this book is how jarring it begins. The first chapter slowly leads the reader into the story, but then the second chapter just throws them into the middle of the story without a map and kind of expects them to understand what's going on. It takes a bit for the story to sink in and for it to feel like a more traditional novel. I have to say though that this world is very inventive and one of my favorite things is fairy tale adaptations. The fairy-tale theme, while very apparent as you move through this book, isn't as big of a plot point as I had expected, but more of a given to this fantasy world. I really enjoyed that as I could learn about this new fantasy world while learning about how famous fairy tales mic into it.
Predictability: Because this book is so hard to pin down, I never really got the time to speculate about what happens next or where the story is going from any given point. Instead I just kind of followed the story like a blind man being led, trying to trust my guide and not really trying to anticipate if I'm going to accidentally run into anything. Hopefully I'll be able to get into the next book a bit more so that I can speculate and try and predict where the story is going to end up.
Ending: So the ending really helps set up the next book in the series, at least I hope it does. The final climax itself is pretty epic as there is a lot at stake and what was once a very black and white issue becomes full of shades of gray. The final chapter feels very much like the end to one story, while later it begins to lead into another. I'm interested where this story will go and what familiar faces will make their way back into this story and this world.
If it wasn't for the fact that I felt dropped into the story dazed and confused and the romance, which had an importance to the story, was already established when the story began, I probably would have liked if not loved this story more than I did. I will continue this series as I love the author, but I really hope that it can only get better from here.