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by Cornelia Funke, Cornelia Funke (Illustrator)
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My review is here: http://whatsonthebookshelf.blogspot.com/2010/10/mirror-mirror-on-wall.html
A little confusing at first, getting to know the Mirrorworld and characters and all, but a satisfying read for those who like fairy tales woven in with their fiction.
Rating: 4* of five
The Publisher Says: Jacob has uncovered the doorway to another world, hidden behind a mirror. It is a place of dark magic and enchanted objects, scheming dwarves and fearsome ogres, fairies born from water and men born from stone. Here, he hunts for treasure and seeks adventure in the company of Fox - a beautiful, shapeshifting girl, who guides and guards him. But now Jacob's younger brother has followed him into the mirrored world, and all that was freedom has turned to fear. Because a deadly curse has been spoken; and Jacob must risk his life to reverse it, before his brother is turned to stone forever... Revised and updated by Cornelia Funke, The Petrified Flesh is the first book in the thrilling Reckless series.
I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA EDELWEISS+. THANK YOU.
My Review: Don't mistake "young adult" for "fluffy." This story of brothers, orphaned early in life by a father whose abandonment of them without a word also cost them their mother to her grief, as they find the "Mirrorworld" that their father vanished into...inside his study!
This is a portal fantasy, with a secondary world that resembles our own enough to be an alternate-history world except for the fact that magic works. "Austry" is the name of the Mirrorworld country the brothers, and their father before him, arrive in, not the Austria they leave behind. The family's disintegration, as abetted by the mirror, is not something that the hero Jacob is trying to fix or to escape, like Meg in A Wrinkle in Time or the Pevensies in The Chronicle of Narnia. Jacob's a young adult, he fled into Mirrorworld to find a place for himself not look for someone else. Of course he finds others...a bad father-figure but a good mentor in Albert Chanute, innkeeper and treasure hunter in Austry, a girlfriend of sorts in Fox the shapeshifting...fox. He's got a life as a treasure hunter! He's met the Empress six times! (But don't tell Chanute that, he's only met her three times for treasure-hunting and now he's past it, so there'd be jealousy and trouble.)
The stakes this secondary world introduces to us could not be higher. Jacob's treasure-hunting ways are threatened by the Goyls, put a gar- in front and you'll get it, finally having effective leadership and thus starting to win battles in the eternal war between humans and their kind. What matters about that is that Will, Jacob's brother, has been bitten by a Goyl and is suffering the inexorable fate of such: He's turning into the stone creature that we call a Goyl but, since he's human, he won't survive the change. He will be a stone human...dead, but still walking without his soul. And Jacob, whose running away to find a life in this other world, now can't figure out how to save Will...and his refusal to share knowledge of Mirrorworld with Will is what left him susceptible to the bite in the first place. Oh! Wait! That's not enough pressure, not enough baggage. Will's utterly innocent girlfriend Clara finds the mirror and enters Mirrorworld, too!
Now, let me not spend more time in Spoilerville than is necessary. Will and Clara are serious Mary Sues. The world happens to them. They're not possessed of Jacob's trove of information...and this is something he quite rightly blames himself for not imparting to his adoring little brother. He spends just enough time recognizing that he's set these conditions in motion, and the success or failure of Will's future life among the living not-Goyls is entirely on him.
Celeste/Fox surprised me as a character. Will is younger than Jacob and he has a blah girlfriend, but Jacob's magical girlfriend is...a real full-bodied relationship partner! I wasn't thinking that would work in a kid-aimed story. But this, with its neither dwelt-on nor avoided sexuality and its frank presentation of bodily suffering...Chanute's arm is lost for a singularly stupid reason, for example, but it's before the story we're being told now starts, and is reported not experienced...is part of the not-quite-adult storytelling world. I'd give this to any sixteen-year-old and expect them to feel positive about it. Not younger, though. The consequences of stupid actions aren't minimized!
But sometimes, stupid people just can't be forced to stop being stupid. Clara simply can not be made to see what is completely obvious to the meanest intelligence: She is NOT in her own birth-world anymore and can NOT act like she's out for a particularly strange walk there! It gets wearing, her insistence that Jacob act as though her world's rules still hold sway. And he, fool of a man that he is, keeps explaining and explaining why her way won't work! Because she's unwilling to learn!
But Jacob...he's fighting through death and resurrection, he's fighting enemies he knows are enemies as well as friends he doesn't know are worse than enemies..."Who makes peace when you can have victory?" muses one such...Jacob fights until the fabric of Mirrorworld finally delivers him the thing he's consistently asked for, demanded, begged to receive. The thing he's died inside and out to cause to happen.
He's received the gift of an ending.
What a lovely way to make your portal fantasy pop! Make it such that there is no more severe betrayal that can occur to anyone in this world. Give everyone an ending. Then, stand back and watch the fun begin!
So perfect for its intended audience, so much in accord with the end-of-adolescence access of adult emotions but without the perspective to manage them. This should take the world by storm, and I hope it will.
Equally good the second time around.
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (1)
Jacob and Will Reckless have looked out for each other ever since their father disappeared, but when Jacob discovers a magical mirror that transports him to a warring world populated by witches, giants, and ogres, he keeps it to himself until Will follows him one day, with dire consequences.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)833.92 — Literature German and Germanic German fiction Modern period (1900-) 1990-
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Hachette Book Group
An edition of this book was published by Hachette Book Group.
In Reckless Jacob is followed into this dangerous world by his brother who he has to save from becoming a monster. In Fearless after saving his brother it is Jacob's own life that is at stake.
Cornelia Funke gives us a world that is dark, dangerous, and exhilarating. A world where King Arthur did exist, where warlocks make castles disappear and where men with skin of Jade and Carnelian are conquering the many kingdoms around them. Where the fury curse can slowly take your life. Where your only hope is a magic crossbow. ( )