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Cornelia Funke – Inkdeath

November 24, 2008

146. Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke (German 2007; English translation 2008)
Inkworld Trilogy, Book 3

Read My Review of:
– Book 1, Inkheart (on LibraryThing)
– Book 2, Inkspell

Read By: Allan Corduner
Length: 19h 44m (656 pages)

Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy

Started: 04 November 2008
Finished: 21 November 2008

Living in a book
means you don’t always get to
pick your happy end.

Summary: If Inkheart was mostly Meggie’s book, and Inkspell was mostly Dustfinger’s, Inkdeath clearly belongs to Mo. After the end of Inkspell, when Mo bound immortality for the Adderhead into the White Book, it seems as though Mo, Meggie, and Resa should be able to go back to their own world. However, despite his reluctance to come in the first place, Mo is falling in love with the Inkworld, and some days it seems as though the Bluejay is taking him over. Meanwhile, Farid is still trying to find a way to get the White Women to release their hold on Dustfinger, Fenoglio is still unable to write any more words to influence his own story, and Orpheus has set himself up to manipulate the story to his own ends. When the Adderhead discovers that Mo sabotaged the White Book, leaving it – and consequently him – to rot alive, he threatens the children of Ombra in an attempt to draw out Mo and make him fix the book. But Mo has been called by so many names – Bookbinder, Silvertongue, Bluejay – which of those is he really? And who – Orpheus, Fenoglio, or someone else – will write the ending of the story?

Review: We love books because they can open up new worlds for us; they give us a chance to escape our own lives, and live for a while in another life, another world. However, I suspect part of that love for books is that we can close them again and return to our own lives, and leave the other worlds contained between the covers. Fiction is a wonderful place to visit, but would you really want to live there?

That’s one of the issues that’s played with in this book, the third in a series that’s dedicated to the love of books and stories. The story-within-a-story (within a story) format is played well, and even though it’s clear that the Inkworld is not always a nice place, and things aren’t sugar-coated and stories don’t always end happily, part of me still wants to live there. The amazing thing is that the Inkworld feels real enough that I could live there, like it’s not a creation of Funke’s, but a world that sprung into being and is telling its own story.

Objectively, yes, Inkdeath is a long book, as were both of its predecessors, and a few of the plot twists could probably have been cut. But subjectively, I didn’t care one whit: I knew it was long, but I was so absorbed in the story that it never felt like it was dragging, and once it was over, I immediately wanted to turn around and dive back into Inkheart, just so that I didn’t have to leave Funke’s world and say goodbye to her characters. Those characters are just as well-built as her world is, and even relatively minor, peripheral characters are unique, interesting, and multi-dimensional – real people living in a real world.

The dilemma came as I approached the ending of this book… I almost didn’t want to listen to it, in part because I didn’t want it to be over, but also because I was afraid for the characters I’d come to love, and didn’t see how Funke was going to pull off the ending. We read fantasy, particularly young-adult fantasy, expecting the good guys to win, but Funke had made it clear throughout the book that stories don’t always end happily. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that while the end was not quite what I would have chosen, it was surprising, satisfying, and fully in line with the tone of the series as a whole.

One minor quibble: this book really made me wish that they’d kept the direct translation from German for the title of the second book… it didn’t make much difference at the time, but in retrospect it really should have been Inkblood instead of Inkspell. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Just wonderful. I thought Inkheart was a little slow in the middle, but it was worth it for the rest of this entirely enchanting series – to which Inkdeath makes an incredibly satisfying end.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Cornelia Funke’s (english-version) Website

Did I miss your review? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Moonlight fell on Elinor’s bathrobe, her nightdress, her bare feet, and the dog lying in front of them.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2008 10:43 am

    I’ve been reading so much about the Inkworld series. I guess I need to add them to my huge wish list.

  2. November 24, 2008 3:10 pm

    I skimmed through your review because I’ve only just finished Inkheart and don’t want to give myself any spoilers for the other books. But it’s good to know that the ending was so satisfying! I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

  3. November 24, 2008 3:51 pm

    bermudaonion – They’re certainly not going to be to everyone’s tastes, but if a well-built fantasy adventure story geared towards bookworms sounds appealing to you, I’d say definitely go for it!

    Nymeth – Yes, stay away from the “Summary” section in particular! Inkheart was definitely my least favorite of the trilogy, which is rare – but hopefully you’ll enjoy the rest of the books as much as I did!

  4. November 24, 2008 5:05 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad to hear that you think it ended well! I have this waiting on my shelf for as soon as I get through some ARCs.

  5. November 24, 2008 7:11 pm

    I didn’t read the full review, just enough to know that you liked it. And, I’m really glad that you liked this one. I am getting ready to start it, and I have been so nervous that it wouldn’t end well!

  6. November 26, 2008 9:11 am

    I didn’t read the full review either, but glad to hear you enjoyed it. I’ve had Inkheart and Inkspell on my shelf for far too long, I must try to get to them next year.

  7. November 26, 2008 2:39 pm

    Carrie K – The ending wasn’t perfect, but it was satisfying enough to keep me happy. I hope you agree!

    KT – I’ll be looking forward to your review!

    tanabata – I think this series is getting a little bit of a publicity kick in the pants since the movie’s coming out – good incentive to move them up the queue!

  8. November 26, 2008 9:48 pm

    I’ve heard great things about this series, and this book in particular. I think it says a lot that you were connected enough to the characters that you were a little scared to listen to the ending!!!

  9. November 26, 2008 10:07 pm

    Shana – It doesn’t hurt that in my mind, two of the leads are played by Brendan Fraser and Paul Bettany. :-D Usually I get annoyed when the movie casting overtakes how I’d pictured characters in my head, but in this case, the actors that were cast are actually better than how I’d originally pictured them.

  10. November 27, 2008 6:24 am

    I’d like to re-read the first one before I read Inkspell and Inkdeath.

  11. November 29, 2008 10:17 am

    Jen – I definitely understand the urge to re-read, and normally I do, but I waited a year between Inkheart and Inkspell, and eight months between Inkspell and Inkdeath, and it wasn’t so bad… the books aren’t so bound up together that it was crucial to have the details fresh in my mind.

  12. November 29, 2008 9:35 pm

    I can’t wait to read this! I loved Inkheart and Inkspell, but I bought mine in paperback and now am waiting for the Inkdeath paperback to be out. *sigh*

  13. November 30, 2008 10:50 am

    marineko – I’m with you on the paperback ownership… this one was actually an audiobook that I was lucky enough to get from the public library. I won’t own my own copy until the paperbacks come out.

  14. adrienne nipper permalink
    January 6, 2009 4:01 pm

    i remember when i got this book…i was in fifth grade and i just ordered the 3 surpirse books for 2.99$ and inkheart was one of them! i started reading it and couldnt put it down…i was obbsessed!!! i”ve read both books and am on the third!!

    when i heard inkheart was becoming a movie i was thrilled!! i’ve been waiting 3-4 years for this!! and now th wait is almost over! But its gonna be diffuclt for me to piture Brendan Fraser as Mo…i always iture him as Rick on The Mummy series and al his immatureness…hehe…but i stillhave faith in him!!!!

    Go Ink series!!!!

  15. August 10, 2009 3:30 am

    I have read Inkheart and Inkspell. Both are good books, although I do think something has been lost in translation.

    I will definitely read Inkdeath. However, I must say that this is not one of my favorite Fantasy series. It is difficult to explain. My mind likes it, but somehow I feel it doesn’t touch my heart.


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