Book Review: Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

Posted January 29, 2022 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

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Inkdeath

Inkdeath

by Cornelia Funke

Series: Inkworld #3
Publisher: Scholastic on September 28, 2007
Genre: Fantasy
Target Age Group: Middle Grade, New Adult, Young Adult
Representation: Middle Eastern Character(s)
Content Warnings: Death, Injury, Pregnancy, Sexism, Torture, Violence

Rating: ★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads or buy the book at Bookshop.org

Ever since the extraordinary events of Inkspell, when the enchanted book Inkheart drew Meggie and her father, Mo, into its chapters, life in the Inkworld has been more tragic than magical.

The fire-eater Dustfinger is dead, having sacrificed his life for his apprentice Farid’s, and now, under the rule of the evil Adderhead, the fairy-tale land is in bloody chaos, its characters far beyond the control of Fenoglio, their author. Even Elinor, left behind in the real world, believes her family to be lost—lost between the covers of a book.

Facing the threat of eternal winter, Mo inks a dangerous deal with Death itself. There yet remains a faint hope of changing the cursed story—if only he can fill its pages fast enough.


Inkdeath is a darker book than Inkheart and Inkspell. This third book and trilogy finale shifts its focus away from magic and adventure and into something more sinister. There are more villains than ever before in the Inkworld and allies are less stalwart. While the magic of Inkheart leads me to love the trilogy, it is Inkdeath that engrossed me the most.

There is not so much action in Inkdeath as there are high stakes. Of particular interest to me is Mortimer’s transformation. I saw the Inkheart film long before I read any of the books, and Mo will forever be Brendan Fraser in my mind. Watching the way that character evolves to fill the role needed of him in the Inkworld is fascinating and a bit heartbreaking (which makes it that much easier to relate to Meggie and Reesa). Between besting cruel rulers and saving children and having a meeting with Death, there is so much going on in Inkdeath to appeal to any reader, but it’s Mo’s descent that shines most in this novel. I have no idea if this was Funke’s intent or just my personal interpretation, but I really like it.

To be sure, this book has its flaws. It’s far too long and feels like it ambles along sometimes. Where there are so many ticking clocks and things at stake, Inkdeath‘s leisurely pace frustrated me as a reader. While Funke is not a particularly urgent writer, the pacing of the book was further agitated by the multiple POVs. Inkdeath has five main POVs – Mo, Reesa, Meggie, Fengolia, and Orpheus. Meggie and Mo still hold the spotlight, but that is an awful lot of voices. There are also characters that have one or two POV chapters, such as Elinor, Dustfinger, and Farid. From a writer’s perspective, I really enjoy telling the story from the voice of the character who is in the right place at the right time. From a reader’s perspective, it’s a bit much. I personally didn’t get the voices tangled, but by this time I’m well familiar with each of the characters and found their individual internal monologues easy to navigate. Others may not be so fortunate.

The Inkworld remains as vivid and interesting as ever. One cannot help but to side with Fengolio a bit in this one, despite his cantankerous nature – he created an incredible world and Orpheus’ machinations cheapen the magic a bit. There’s also a new setting conjured by Fengolio that I just… didn’t buy. The blue faeries and the Fire-Dancers and the Black Prince and his Bear – all the elements from the original story before humans entered the world and began mucking about – remains as wonderful as ever.

As much as it pains me to admit this, there are characters I really enjoyed in Inkheart and Inkspell that just don’t seem to have a purpose. Farid and Meggie are left mostly to following in their heroes’ shadows and being angsty. Elinor is absolutely one of my favorite characters, and I am begrudgingly forced to admit she doesn’t add much. In fact, Elinor has never been much more than a means-to-an-end to move the story along in places, which is a shame before I adore her. Orpheus, our villain, is so cartoonishly bad that he reminds me of the Bowler Hat Guy from Disney’s Meet the Robinsons. His physical description is nothing like the character, but it’s the only way I can picture him. The characters are all fun and interesting, but they just don’t bring as much to the story as I wanted.

One of the magical things about Inkdeath was that I spent so much time worrying after Mo or for the poor glass men who were constantly abused by Fengolio and Orpheus that I didn’t think of all these things that bothered me until hours after I finished the book. The main premise of the Inkworld trilogy revolves around a man who reads worlds from books and makes them come to life. That same breathless magic is in Inkdeath as vibrantly it is the rest of the trilogy. You dive in, and you are immediately caught up in the world around you. It’s so easy to forget about life for a while.

For all the qualms I have about the trilogy – whether it be translation or fact, but wouldn’t it be amazing to read them in their original German?- I still think that this collection is one of the most creative stories I’ve ever read and I adore the story they tell. I very much recommend it to readers of all ages.

Setting

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Characters

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pacing

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Personal Enjoyment

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plot

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Writing

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Narrator

Rating: 4 out of 5.
send me your thoughts

Do you like your protagonists to have internal struggles?

Mo is constantly forced to face his competing personalities as Bluejay and SIlvertongue. I like it! Would you?

Share with me in the comments!

stay magical amber

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Other Books by Cornelia Funke

3 books found

★★★½

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

★★★★½

★★★★


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2 responses to “Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

  1. It’s been a long time since I read this book. Your review reminds me how I felt when I first read it! I wasn’t very happy with Meggie and Farid, and although I was fascinated by Mo’s story, it was a little dark for me at the time. That’s why I used to consider Inkspell my favourite – I liked that it was set almost entirely in the fantasy world and the characters were a delight. But reading your thoughts makes me think I might actually appreciate this final book more now than I did when I was younger…

    • Amber

      I couldn’t get into the Inkheart trilogy at all when I was younger, and while I’m glad I read it when I was older, it’s a rare exception. It may be worthwhile if you liked the other books, but from my own experience, rereading books I didn’t love but thought I may like later has mostly led to heartbreak. XD