Author: Cornelia Funke
Pub. Date: September 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Age Range: Young Adult
Synopsis/Teaser: Jacob Reckless was 12 years old when he discovered the mirror through which his father disappeared. The mirror leads to a magical land called the Mirrorworld, but this land is just as harsh as our own. Jacob now has lived in the Mirrorworld for years, enjoying its bounties and avoiding its brutalities, but all of that is changed when his younger brother, Will, follows him into the mirror. Will falls prey to a dark curse, and it’s a race against time for Jacob and his companions to save him– and the rest of this world– before it’s too late.
Review: Master storyteller Cornelia Funke is back in the book scene! After she completed her successful Inkworld trilogy, I wondered what she would come up with next. This book, the first in the Reckless series, follows a similar concept: young people ensnared in a magical realm that’s far from an animated Disney movie. This time, however, Funke draws from the endless wells of fairy tales and folklore to create a dark and dangerous world somewhat similar to that of the Brothers Grimm.
Tiny details about the Mirrorworld– from beauty-bestowing Fairy lilies to the abandoned, dilapidated candy houses of child-eating Witches– help to bring it to life. The addition of Industrial Revolution era technology gives the Mirrorworld an almost steampunk edge that wasn’t found in the medieval Inkworld. Both takes have their advantages, but the Mirrorworld seems more believable and developed.
The characters in Reckless were amazing and realistic, as always with Cornelia Funke. Each person (or Dwarf, or Fairy, or Goyl, as the case may well be) had his or her quirks and perks, adding up to a perfect blend. I would say, however, that Jacob had that certain hero’s hubris that can get annoying at high levels. His self-confidence was earned, though, and his endless resourcefulness was endearing.
One thing that did annoy me about Reckless was how the story jumped right in. Allow me to explain: in the first chapter, Jacob is 12 and just discovering the Mirrorworld. In the next chapter, he’s in his early twenties and is an established treasure hunter in the Mirrorworld. Will has already followed him in and has got the curse. Readers are forced to gradually adapt as the backstory is fed to us piece by piece, while committing to memory the names of countries, species, and political figures. Eventually, they’ll understand and be able to just sit back and enjoy the story, but it may take a while, depending on the proficiency of fairy tale knowledge the reader in question has.
On the whole, Reckless is an inventive, dark, and thrilling novel that will be hard to put down once you get started.
Recommended for: Fairy tale fans with an interest in the darker side of fantasy.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 possible stars