A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Meggie shares with her father the perilous ability to read things and even characters out of books. In this sequel to Inkheart, Meggie discovers that she can also read people into books. After Dustfinger is sent back into Inkheart by Orpheus, another person with this ability, Meggie and Farid soon follow him, and Resa and Mo are sent by Orpheus, along with Mortola and Basta, the surviving villains from the first book. Mo is seriously wounded by Mortola, and Meggie finds Fenoglio, the author of the story, now living inside it. He agrees to try to help Mo by writing new sections of the book, but the story seems to be evolving in ways that he can't control. As kingdoms go to war and multiple villains team up for revenge and conquest, Meggie tries to rescue her parents while falling in love with Farid.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this sequel compares to the first book. Is the story as exciting as in the first book? What would you change, if anything? Are you going to read the third book, Inkdeath?
This book is fantasy but does feature some intense violence and threats. Is it easier to read about dark and disturbing things if it's in a work of fantasy? Does it make any difference to you?
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