“Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain. Many years later, Meggie had only to close her eyes and she could still hear it, like tiny fingers tapping on the windowpane. A dog barked somewhere in the darkness, and however often she tossed and turned Meggie couldn’t get to sleep.”
When a strange man named Dustfinger shows up one night on their front porch, 12 year old Meggie and her father Mo have their lives thrown into turmoil. Dustfinger warns Mo that a deeply evil man named Capricorn is after something in Mo’s possession and will stop at nothing to get it. Meggie, Dustfinger, and Mo flee to a distant relative’s house – Elinor – but that doesn’t save them from being caught up in Capricorn’s plans to use them for his own ends. What follows is an adventure straight out of Meggie’s favorite storybooks but much more real and deadly as she realizes how very special she and her father are and what will be required of them before Capricorn is through.
Translated from the original German, this novel manages to retain the poetic quality of the story within both the plot and the writing style. Meggie is a lovely character to travel along with, despite her stubbornness and sometimes annoying loyalty to her father. At times I wondered how many times Meggie would actively disobey her father and walk directly back into harms’ way – it got a bit repetitive after the first three. The only other complaint I have is this: as great as this story is, it often felt like it wandered. I didn’t ever feel like there was a set goal for the story. There was the unspoken and universal concept of ridding the world of a very bad man, but neither Mo nor Meggie really fought for that. Instead, they somewhat floated along as Capricorn wanted them to until an opportunity presented itself to change their circumstances. Elinor felt like the only violently dynamic character in the entire court.
Still, there is no way I cannot recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction, fantasy, or reading in general. While it has its flaws, the story is still delightful and Mo is the most perfect of doting fathers. The air of secrecy and of “specialness” that pervades the pages keeps you reading. The concept is lovely and intriguing – which of us has not wanted to slip into the worlds of our favorite books?
“Inkheart” was written by Cornelia Funke and published in 2003.