Reckless by Cornelia Funke (2010)

The night breathed through the apartment like a dark animal. The ticking of a clock. The groan of a floorboard as he slipped out of his room. All was drowned by its silence. But Jacob loved the night. He felt it on his skin like a promise. Like a cloak woven from freedom and danger (p 1).

RecklessJacob lives for the dark freedom he has found behind the mirror on the wall of his father’s study. His younger brother, Will, and their mother are asleep when Jacob first discovers he can enter a fairy tale world via a mirror.

Jump ahead twelve years. After years of secretly visiting the fairy tale world alone, Jacob’s carelessness leads to Will discovering his secret. But we are plopped into the story farther down the road. Will is turning to stone. The Dark Fairy, consort to the Goyl King, has cursed the Goyl soldiers so those Doughskins who are scratched by stone claws become Goyl.

My complaint is that this transition, from childhood to Will with a stone in his arm, is awkward.

It is clear Funke wants to tell the “Jacob’s Quest to Save Will” story, but beginning chapters – including perspectives from the Goyl, Clara and then back to Jacob visiting his former teacher – are jolting.

But then, Funke settles into the story she so clearly set out to tell. And it’s a good one.

As a lover of fairy tales from my early childhood, I relished every mention of a magical item: a Rapunzel hair, a handkerchief that produces sovereigns when rubbed, glass slippers. Magical creatures abound: Watermen, Lorelei (aka sirens), unicorns and the Tailor.

I was immersed in Funke’s macabre fairy world.

Jacob is a multifaceted character driven by the search for his father, his desire for Clara, his love for Will. Love, lust and the bonds brotherhood. It’s all in here (which is why I’m wondering why this is in the Children’s Section of our library…).


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