Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
Digital Audiobook narrated by Brendan Fraser
Published by Scholastic on October 1st, 2005
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction, Magic, Young Adult
Length: 655 pages or 18 hours, 53 minutes
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Although a year has passed, not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of INKHEART, the book whose characters became real. But for Dustfinger, the fire-eater brought into being from words, the need to return to the tale has become desperate. When he finds a crooked storyteller with the ability to read him back, Dustfinger leaves behind his young apprentice Farid and plunges into the medieval world of his past. Distraught, Farid goes in search of Meggie, and before long, both are caught inside the book, too. But the story is threatening to evolve in ways neither of them could ever have imagined.
I have a very short list of things that thoroughly inspire me to create, and Cornelia Funke’s Inkworld trilogy is on it.
I was first introduced to this world by the 2008 film, even though my brother had beautiful copies of Inkheart and Inkspell that neither of us had read. Sometime over the years, I stole Inkheart and it lives on my bookshelf, where my brother still has the copy of Inkspell. And yes, okay, I know that the movie is not the book? But I honestly can’t imagine anyone but Paul Bethany as Dustfinger and Brendan Fraser as Mo. I’m not going to argue the film’s merits – I already know I’m in a small minority here, and I didn’t read the book until after seeing the film, so I still enjoy both.
But the reason I bring up the film at all is this: when I read Inkheart, I read it in hardcopy and while I think Cornelia Funke has the most incredible imagination ever, her writing style has always been a chore for me to read. I’m not sure why I get so distracted with it, but it’s not just Inkheart – I felt the same with Reckless, which I also really really wanted to love. In dire hopes to improve my experience, I went with the audiobook of Inkspell.
And completely to my surprise, guess who reads it? Brendan Fraser.
Seriously, y’all. I was so excited, because it was unexpected. I started listening to it and was like: WAIT A SECOND IS THIS BRENDAN FRASER. IS SILVERTONGUE READING A BOOK OUT LOUD YESSSSS.
So there’s my fangirl bit – I legit love Brendan Fraser and I realize he’s a stranger actor to be a fan of? His movies are just so fun and they make me so happy. Go watch Blast from the Past.
As for the book… listening to the audiobook really made the novel come alive for me. With Inkspell in particular, I realize the irony. Cornelia Funke describes her world with a sort of lazy, slow magic. In Inkspell, we’re actually inside the Inkworld and meeting all the characters that we have heard so much about, as well as a few old favorites. I think that Farid really shines in this one, and he’s a character I didn’t care for originally. The Inkworld feels like a typical fantasy world, but I loved it all the same. It’s the magic of the place, and the thought you could step in and out of your favorite novels with just a few well-scribed words and your own voice. The possibilities that opens up are enough to feed the imagination.
Of course, the Inkworld isn’t following Fenolio’s designs the way he wishes. It has taken on a life of its own, and his ministrations to try and set the story back on track are catastrophic. And you know they will be – you feel his arrogance like a weight on your chest, striving to steal your breath away. You know that eventually, there will be a fatal mistake. And, at any rate, the characters really do have a mind all their own. Character-driven stories are the best.
Other than the villains – who are supposed to be perfectly wretched – there’s not a single character I disliked in Inkspell. The way Mo and Resa are carried into the world is particularly good to me, and I love the way words stick to Mo’s character and try to reshape him. Meggie and Farid’s young love story is so sweet in the shadow of Dustfinger and Roxanne’s older, quieter one. I really enjoyed the Black Prince, but was frustrated we saw so little into him.
But here’s the thing with really long epic fantasy novels. No matter how interesting the characters, no matter how beautiful the world, they drag at times and make you want to take a break. It doesn’t matter what epic fantasy book you’re reading – it happens with every one I’ve read, and I love the genre. There were still moments where I wanted to shout “yes, well, get on with it already!”. Multiple POVs help pick up he pace a little, but they ruin the element of surprise, as well as most twists (unless you have an unreliable narrator; we don’t). So there are no surprises in Inkspell – you just have to be along for the journey.
While I liked this a lot, it’s in part because I enjoyed the audio narration and this is my genre, through and through. And because I don’t mind sitting back at times and enjoying old favorite tropes. For a lot of others, I think Inkspell will drag and feel completely unnecessary to a well-finished tale in Inkheart. It’s a fun fantasy world with just an edge of magic and yes, there is fire dancing. But be prepared for a journey, because this is not a lazy day quick read.