drowning in ink

Weren’t all books ultimately related? After all, the same letters filled them, just arranged in a different order. Which meant that, in a certain way, every book was contained in every other!

Cornelia Funke, Inkdeath, US edition p.444

I picked up Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart a few years ago after a friend suggested that it was the perfect book for me – what bibliophile would not be intrigued by the thought of a book about books? My first foray into the Inkworld was slow, it took a few chapters for me to become truly involved with the story, but I ended up loving the story in the same way that I love the promise of magic offered by Narnia.

In found Inkspell, the second in the series, to be just as compelling as Inkheart as it continued to explore the notion of the power of storytelling and the line between the real and the imagined.


Reiterating the notion that words have a power all their own, Inkdeath presents a world where words can determine life and death, and blur the line betwen what is and what can be. Mo the bookbinder still inhabits the role of the Bluejay, becoming more than himself as he is drawn further into Fenoglio’s story. However, Meggie, his daughter and the heroine of the first two books, plays a lesser role in this tale, as Resa, her mother, becomes a crucial player in the Bluejay’s quest to restore the balance between words and Death.

Death is at the heart of this tale both thematically and as a character. Female in form and the one to have the final word, Death is the main agent in this story.

Inkdeath offered a satisfying conclusion to the series, but I found it a bit overwhelming at times. Funke has a way of writing villains who are evil in a way that goes beyond the type of “Big Baddie” generally expected in children’s books. Funke’s main villains — Capricorn, the Adderhead, and Orpheus — rely on psychological torture to torment their victims in a way that surpasses the physical violence that the lesser villains –such as Basta and the Piper — cannot match. Orpheus is an especially nasty character. Skilled in the same art as Mo, Orpheus too can control words and uses them to meet his own ends. There is a particular scene where Orpheus uses language to draw out the Bluejay’s fears, resulting in one of the more poignant scenes of mental torture in the novel.

On a sidenote… I can’t wait for the Inkheart movie as I just read this review which made me feel very optimistic about the production.

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