A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
As with the first book, the whole thing is tribute to books, authors, reading, and especially reading aloud.
Kids will pick up on the good against evil plot -- and also how exciting books and their characters can be.
Positive Role Models
Meggie is a smart, gifted protagonist who is loyal to her family and very brave.
Violence & Scariness
Killing by sword and dagger (in some cases in cold blood) and fire, a shooting, fighting and battles, threats of torture and hanging, deaths of major characters, references to putting out eyes and cutting off hands, a mention of spousal abuse.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few kisses, oblique references to affairs and cheating spouses.
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Occasional mild to moderate swearing.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some drinking and drunkenness.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, in addition to the bloody violence depicted in this fantasy sequel, there are lots of references to violence in the past, and the threat of violence hangs over most of the book. There is an edge to the violence here as well: it is somehow more vicious, hate-filled, and senseless than in most fantasies. As with the first book, kids pick up on some positive messages as brave bibliophile Meggie fights for good against evil -- and to save her family. The whole series is tribute to books, authors, reading, and especially reading aloud.
Is It Any Good?
Fantasy writer Cornelia Funke takes a page from J.K. Rowling's book, but she missed the most important lessons. Pacing is essential, and books don't get long by larding them up with lots of unnecessary description and pointless to-ing and fro-ing; characters should age gradually; there has to be some lightness in the dark, some humor, some occasional lifting of the miasma of misery; if you have lots of characters, you have to sharply delineate them or it's just confusing; and if you're going to kill off major characters, you have to involve readers emotionally with them first if you want them to care.
This isn't to say that Inkspell lacks excitement -- there's plenty to be had, scattered among the long, drawn-out scenes and descriptions. Fans of the first book will doubtless love this one as well: They have presumably learned to put up with the pacing and skip over the paragraphs that are unnecessary to the story. And the author has an intriguing premise and no shortage of imagination. But this could have been done so much better. Just ask J.K.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.