Thursday, September 1, 2011
Book talk: Of the two Reckless brothers, Jacob was always the one who lived up to the family name. Ever since he discovered the world behind the mirror he's practically made Reckless into his job description as he travels the fairy-tale world hunting for treasures. A comb that turns you into a crow will fetch a high price, if you can escape the witch that it belongs to and live to collect your reward. But Will never knew about the world his brother disappeared to, he only knew that he was often left alone. Until one day when Will discovers his secret and follows him in, only to fall victim to a fairy's curse that is slowly turning him to stone. Now the clock is ticking and Jacob will have to use everything he's learned in his travels if he wants to save Will. He never imagined that his own brother's life would end up being the most dangerous treasure he's ever sought.
Rocks my socks: I love a good fairy tale retold and these Grimmer versions (pardon the pun) are a particular weakness of mine. There's enough of the familiar fairy tales in this world to please readers with recognition and enough new elements to intrigue them. There are love interests, but the romantic side plots don't detract from the main plot of the story. The main characters are boys, which doesn't often happen in these fairy tale retellings, so I found it to be a refreshing change. The illustrations throughout are beautiful.
Rocks in my socks: There is some weak characterization in the novel. Jacob Reckless is a bit distant, which makes it hard for readers to connect with him. His brother is a bit overly weak at first to make for more of a contrast as he turns into stone. We don't get to find out much about Clara except that she loves Will, which seems to be most of her purpose. The same can be said for the shape-shifter girl who spends most of her time in the shape of a fox but acting like a love-sick puppy following her man to the ends of the Earth. Hopefully these characters will get fleshed out more in the next installment of the series.
Every book its reader: Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because it's about fairy tales and heavily illustrated this is for kids--it's not. This isn't a Disney fairy tale of happily ever after, this is a fairy tale world where sleeping beauty never woke up to true love's kiss and her castle is covered in the corpses of those who tried to give it to her. There's nothing explicit in the novels, but the general tone is very dark and Jacob does spend the night with a fairy at one point. The darkness will appeal to teens though and the fast-pacing and stronger male presence will appeal to many who might not otherwise pick up fairy tale novels. I'd focus on the adventure aspect more than the fairy tale aspect when recommending it and I'd save it for 7th grade and up.
Reckless by Cornelia Funke
Buy it at your local independent book store or check it out at your local library.