Gr 4-8-Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie, 12, has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young. Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. Things change after a visit from a scarred man who calls himself Dustfinger and who refers to Mo as Silvertongue. Meggie learns that her father has been keeping secrets. He can "read" characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released Dustfinger and other characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie's mother disappeared into the story. Mo also released Capricorn, a sadistic villain who takes great pleasure in murdering people. He has sent his black-coated henchmen to track down Mo and intends to force him to read an immortal monster out of the story to get rid of his enemies. Meggie, Mo, Dustfinger, and Meggie's great-aunt Elinor are pursued, repeatedly captured, but manage to escape from Capricorn's henchmen as they attempt to find the author of Inkheart in the hope that he can write a new ending to the story. This "story within a story" will delight not just fantasy fans, but all readers who like an exciting plot with larger-than-life characters. Pair this title with Roderick Townley's The Great Good Thing (2001) and Into the Labyrinth (2002, both Atheneum) for a wonderful exploration of worlds within words.-Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
In Funke's (The Thief Lord) delectably thick and transfixing fantasy, 12-year-old Meggie learns that when her bookbinder father, Mo, reads a book aloud, the characters and other objects appear in the real world. Nine years ago, Mo accidentally brought out evil Capricorn and his loyal man, Basta, from Inkheart (as well as the "fire-eater," Dustfinger), and they are hot on his trail. Capricorn wants to destroy Mo's copy of the book so that Mo can't return Capricorn to his fictional life, and Capricorn wants the bookbinder to read out treasures (as in "gold") for him (as well as a murderous "friend" from Inkheart known as the Shadow). While the specifics of how the magic works remain a bit fuzzy, the characters are wonderfully complex, from tragic Dustfinger, who would stop at nothing to return to the world he misses, to the superstitious Basta who remains loyal to his boss even after the villain sentences him to death. Readers will quickly find themselves entranced by the well-orchestrated plot, commiserating with Meggie's great-aunt Elinor when Capricorn's men burn the bibliophile's library of rare books, and jumping when events take a suspenseful turn. Funke plans every exquisite detail: chapters begin with quotes from books such as The Wind in the Willows, setting the stage for this book about books, and bookworms will appreciate the opportunities to identify with the characters (e.g., Dustfinger does not want to learn the ending of Inkheart, both Mo and Elinor warn Meggie of the dangers of fire to those who surround themselves with pages, etc.). Meggie makes a triumphant heroine and in the end discovers her own secret talent. Funke once again proves the power of her imagination; readers will be captivated by the chilling and thrilling world she has created here. Ages 11-15. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.