There is a mirror, in a dusty room of a nearly forgotten house. But it is no ordinary mirror. Behind it lie the lands of the Mirrorworld, a place of danger. Jacob Reckless has been trespassing it’s borders ever since he was a boy, reaping its secrets and its treasures. But then the unthinkable happens. Jacob’s brother, Will, finds the Mirror. And presses his hand against the glass, opening the gateway. And on the other side, The Dark Fairy waits, ready to strike, ready to infect him with a curse that will turn his skin to Jade. He will become a Goyl, a stone-skinned, and he will serve their King…
Reckless is Cornelia Funke’s first fantasy novel since she completed the Inkworld Trilogy, and it is has certainly been worth the wait. Reckless is Funke doing what she does best; writing magical, romantic, beautiful fantasy novels.
It follows the journey Jacob Reckless undertakes as he tries to free his brother from a curse that will turn him into a Goyle, a stone-skinned being. Set in the Mirrorworld, it is a story full of adventure, romance and despair. Reckless is the story of the love between brothers, lovers and races; of new-found love, anguish and betrayal.
Having been a fan of Cornelia Funke’s critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy, I was eager to read Reckless. Everything from the cover to the blurb told me this would be a thrilling novel. And it is.
The Mirrorworld is supposedly inspired by the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Having never read the original works by the Brothers Grimm, I cannot say how much is original, although I suspect that most of it is. What I can say, however, is that the Mirrorworld is a unique, fairy-tale-esque world, and that the level of detail, thought and care that has gone into creating this wonderful world is on par with that of the Inkworld Trilogy, and thus some of the best from contemporary writers.
Unlike most modern fantasies, Cornelia Funke has always been heavily influenced by fairy tale and folk lore when it came to creating her fantasy worlds. Having this fairy tale element gives her books a very unique feel; an almost pristine world, a world of beauty and wonder, but most importantly, a world of deception and lies, and Reckless is no different. Mirrorworld is described beautifully; almost romantically; but beneath these veils lie a dangerous world, where the darkness lurks and waits. Without a doubt, Mirrorworld is one of my favourite fantasy worlds.
Cornelia Funke chose a very interesting perspective when she wrote Reckless; for she wrote Jacob as her main character. It was a brave thing to do- Jacob has not time for love, and sometimes he almost hates that he has to look after his brother. It would have made a fascinating book if Will had been the main character of Reckless; his sudden anger and transformation would have made it very easy for Funke to write about, and would have made a wonderfully deep character. But this book isn’t about Will; it’s about Jacob, and Funke has Jacob go through a very interesting character arc that, though extremely subtle, is highly effective. From reading the book, I get the impression that Reckless is not about the world, or the story (although these are fantastic), but about Jacob, and his love for his brother; the love, that at first is almost hateful love, but becomes stronger and stronger. For me, this was the purpose of the book, and I loved it that way, I loved the subtlety and the growing, the changing of him.
I only have one problem with Reckless, and that is the very last chapter. Without giving too much away, I felt it was anti-climactic, and I felt slightly cheated; the whole book had been working up to this moment, and all of a sudden it all become easy. In some aspects, [SPOILER AHEAD!] I would have preferred Will to stay Goyl; as a consequence; I think it would really have brought out more of Jacob’s emotions. [SPOILER OVER!]
I can’t really comment of Funke’s writing style, since I read it in English and it was originally written in German, but it’s written in a wonderfully descriptive way, that doesn’t explain the nuances of the Mirrorworld; something I like. Funke presents us the magical aspect, but there isn’t a need to explain it; the fairy-tale side almost requires it to say that “it just is”, and sometimes, “it just is” is better than trying to explain everything. The way Reckless is written is almost artistic; beautifully so, which isn’t surprising as Funke is an illustrator (Reckless is filled with her wonderful drawings). Some sentences are clunky, but I think this is more down to translation than anything else.
Cornelia Funke has managed it again; Reckless is a wonderful tale, brimming with emotions, and set in a wonderfully thought out world. Two years have I been waiting for Funke to again delight me with another of her fantasy novels, and she has not disappointed. I can say that it was worth the wait; I just hope that she continues writing novels like this; fairy-tales for the modern reader.