"This book taught me, once and for all, how easily you can escape this world with the help of words! You can find friends between the pages of a book, wonderful friends!"
The Inkheart books are pure comfort reads for me. I first read them whilst I was at university and I think I finished up the whole trilogy in a week or so. I just loved the concept of being able to read yourself in or out of a book, of characters coming to life and changing their stories in front of your eyes. What bookworm hasn't dreamt themselves into the pages of their favourite novel?
Inkspell is the second book in the series (I read and reviewed Inkheart in December), so this review contains spoilers for the first volume. It's been a year since the events of Inkheart, and Meggie is unable to leave her adventure behind her, remaining utterly obsessed with the Inkworld. Dustfinger is of course still trying to find his way back into the novel, and he finally seems to have come across a reader capable to reading him and Farid into the Inkworld, Orpheus. But when Orpheus goes back on his word and Farid is left behind, he seeks out Meggie to try to find another way in. Despite knowing the dangers of what she is doing, Meggie can't resist reading herself and Farid into the pages of the story. However, it turns out that the story is a living, breathing thing, that has changed beyond Dustfinger's experiences and the author's intentions. A dangerous leader, the Adderhead, is rising in the South, and the Inkworld has become a treacherous place for all of the original characters from Inkheart.
It goes without saying that I loved Inkspell; I wouldn't be rereading it if I didn't. I love that we actually get to go into the Inkworld for the first time in this volume, and that the cast of characters is expanded. My favourite of the new characters is the Black Prince, the leader of the Motley Folk, a band of travelling performers, and his pet bear. I love the inventiveness of the Inkworld and also it's straightforwardness - there is a clear line between good and evil. Normally this is something that would bother me, but it fits really well with the escapism of the novel and the way that the atmosphere captures childhood fantasy classics.
Unfortunately, Inkspell isn't quite as good as Inkheart. It's longer and more meandering, and probably could have been cut down a bit. I know that Funke needed to get her characters into the Inkworld for the trilogy to continue, but I find it hard to believe that Meggie would have ever have read herself in, given her experiences in the last novel and Mo's opinions of the world.
Still, Inkspell is perfect comfort reading that allows you to escape into a magical fantasy world. It's old fashioned in tone and manages to take me back to my childhood without patronising me. I remember being disappointed with Inkdeath, the final book in the trilogy, when I read it the first time, so I can't wait to get on to rereading it so I can see if my opinion has changed.
Source: Personal copy
First Published: 2005
Edition Read: Chicken House, 2006
Score: 4 out of 5