Funke deftly escorts readers on another fantasy adventure, this time to dark, enchanting Mirrorworld, a fairy-tale land inhabited by humans, faerie creatures and the Goyls, a warring stone race. Discovering a magical mirror with the evocative message, "The mirror will open only for he [sic] who cannot see himself," 12-year-old Jacob Reckless travels through it in search of his missing father. For 12 years Jacob secretly returns as a treasure seeker, trading in magical objects and creatures, until his younger brother Will follows him, is clawed by a Goyl and turns into stone. Battling time, Jacob confronts dangers in an abandoned gingerbread house, Sleeping Beauty's thorn castle, the Red Fairy's bower and the Goyl king's towers as he seeks the Dark Fairy to remove Will's evil spell. The fluid, fast-paced narrative exposes Jacob's complex character, his complicated sibling relationship and a densely textured world brimming with vile villains and fairy-tale detritus. An unresolved ending hints at future journeys through the mirror, while spot-art pencil sketches evoke the Grimm atmosphere. Masterful storytelling. (Fantasy. 10 & up) Â
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Inspired by the Brothers Grimm, Funke twists fairy lore into a dark incarnation. A prologue introduces Jacob Reckless, 12, heartsick over his father's disappearance. The story then jumps ahead 12 years; Jacob, having figured out how to follow his father through a mirror, has made a name as a finder of magical items--seven-league boots, locks of "Rapunzel-hair"--in war-torn Mirrorworld, ruled by fairies and "Goyl," humans whose skin has turned to stone. Jacob's brother, Will, however, is mauled by a Goyl, and his skin begins to turn to jade; the plot is a race for a cure. The rich re-imagining of familiar fairy tale details is the best part, as there is little character development. There are few child characters, and veiled sexual innuendo and violence make this edgier fare. The writing is beautiful on one page, clunky on another ("But there always comes a time when a man wants to sense the same mortality that dwells in his flesh also in the skin he caresses"). Planned sequels will give Funke a chance to fill in the missing back-story that makes this a frustrating read. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Gr 7-10--Funke takes readers on a new adventure into a magical place where the dark side of fairy tales holds sway. Jacob Reckless, like his father before him, escapes into the Mirrorworld, and all is well until his younger brother, Will, follows him in and falls under the enchantment of the Dark Fairy. Through an injury, she turns him slowly into a Goyl, a person made of stone. Jacob is determined to rescue his brother and restore him to himself. Accompanied by his companion, a shape-shifter girl/vixen named Fox, and Will's girlfriend, Clara, Jacob journeys with Will to find the antidote to the spell. With a large cast, including a dwarf, powerful fairies born from water, deadly moths, man-eating sirens, unicorns, and the terrifying Tailor with fingers ending in blades and needles, the story includes multiple fairy-tale motifs as the characters grapple with fear and despair while on their seemingly hopeless quest. The action picks up midway through the book and races to an exciting climax. Despite some loose plotting and broadly drawn characters, readers are pulled into the thrill of the story. The themes of guilt, responsibility, abandonment, and love, in the context of the many dangers in the Mirrorworld, contribute to a serious tone. Ultimately the characters keep faith with what matters most to each of them. The fact that the main characters are in their 20s will help to extend its potential readership to older students. Reckless will be enjoyed by Funke's fans, who will be pleased that she has left the door open for a sequel.--Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City[Page 154]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.