Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can “read” fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.
Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie 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. He can “read” characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie’s mother disappeared into 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.
I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a long time. It’s one of those recommended for newbie authors of children’s books at that conference I went to – five years ago, just before I published the first of the Princelings books. In the meantime, the film came out, and came onto tv, and I kept getting bits of it, from roughly two-thirds of the way through, time and time again! I had a little difficulty tying up the film with the book, but I think I know why.
This is a lovely premise, the first in a series, of the problem that occur when you have the dubious gift of reading out loud and bringing the characters to life in your own world, especially as something or someone has to take their place. It’s dramatic, pacey, intriguing and has lots of things to like, but it’s a big book, and I found it flagged in the middle. There are two parts to the problem of the people who have been brought out of the book, and that’s where it flags. It may just be my attention span, but after they got away the first time, there was a long pause before they went back to sort things out for good, and if I hadn’t been intent on finishing it, I might not have done. This could be because I’d seen much of the later part of the story on film, and all the way through I’d been trying to tie up some of the characters in the books with those I’d seen in the film (and occasionally failing). I just think the part in between could have been less dull. Or shorter.
So I’m glad I read it, but I can’t see any reason to read any of the other books in the series. Like many books, though, if Meggie is your girl, then you’ll read the rest of her adventures.
Inventive, well written, well characterised, but didn’t grab me. Don’t let that put you off (unless you’ve already seen the film).