I have found the most WONDERFULLY dark and magical story!
And I won’t lie: I’m in love. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Cornelia Funke’s MirrorWorld series. I read Inkheart about 99 years ago in my wayward youth, but this series never accosted my eyeballs for some reason??? BUT HERE IT IS IN MY LIFE NOW. And I love it 500%. And I’m about to throw the first three books at your head and demand you read them. I’ll give you good reasons though, aside from “because I said so” even though that’s the only reason you truly need.
Also since this is an overall list review it will (A) contain NO SPOILERS so don’t freak out! and (B) you can read my Goodreads reviews for the first three books individually here: The Petrified Flesh, Living Shadows, The Golden Yarn.
Note: These were published originally back in 2010 I believe. They’ve been republished, reprinted, re-written, and recovered. #Lovely And they’re translated from German!
Thank you Allen & Unwin for the review copies!
1. IT’S FULL OF DARKLY MAGICAL FAIRY TALE AWESOME.
I’m a huge fairy tale addict but I like dark fairy tales and I rarely find any that actually fit what I’m craving. But this??! THIS?!?!??! This is like a checklist of everything that is awesome in retellings! Plus it’s a massive mashup. So you’ll see snippets of folklore, Russian tales, mythology, Grimm tales, and magical mythical twists. And it’s full of magic that’ll eat you up and spit out your bones. THE MONSTERS UNDER YOUR BED ARE REAL, MY CHILDREN, AND THEY ARE HUNGRY.
Why do you like your retellings so dark, Cait.
I just…I just do okay.
2. IT’S SET IN MIRROR WORLD VS OUR WORLD.
Which means they get to fling themselves through mirrors to get around. It’s very nice. And since I’ve had zero luck with my wardrobe and Narnia, if you need me, I’ll be trying to crawl like a hellion through my mirror and hopefully land in MirrorWorld or Wonderland. I’ll take either/or.
3. ALSO THE WORLD BUILDING IS MY ACTUAL NEW FAVOURITE THING.
Since it’s a mirror world, it still vaguely resembles Europe, but like EUROPE + SO MUCH MAGIC. And some of the borders/names are different and like some countries are not French or whatever, but rather Goyls who are made out of stone and will probably kill you. But the best part was how deep and complex the world was. Each book just added more layers! You could get lost in all the endless possibilities of this world, and the myths and magic and people and powers and thorn bushes that want you for a snack.
4. JACOB RECKLESS IS BASICALLY A MAGICAL INDIANA JONES X WINCHESTERS.
You better know who Indiana Jones is, okay? Don’t make me feel old. But basically: treasure finder, part time thief, collector of magical artefacts that he sometimes sells them and he shouldn’t. He’s spent most of his life in Mirrorworld because he likes it better there. And book one takes off with his little brother climbing in after him and, you know, NEARLY DYING AND GETTING TURNED INTO A BOY OF JADE. So Jacob has to fix that. Basically Jacob’s aesthetic is: making very bad decisions and nearly dying to fix them. He is precious. He’s also extremely proud (“don’t help me I can do this”) and fails a lot (“but yet I’m dying pls help”) and loves very intensely but denies it and will stab you in the face if you say he has feelings.
SO MANY FEELINGS.
I HAVE FEELINGS NOW, DARNIT, JACOB.
Also the brother love is strong with this one and makes me think of my favourite Winchesters. This series just keeps getting better seriously.
5. I THINK I’M IN LOVE WITH ALL THE CHARACTERS TO BE HONEST.
There are a lot and I mixed up a lot of minor ones — but this is on me, because I can’t even remember my own niece’s names. But the main characters were such amazing little dangerous tragic violent children that I loved them so much.
- JACOB RECKLESS: treasure hunter and Mister I Am Invincible who is always getting very hurt but will scowl his way back to life.
- WILL RECKLESS: Jacob’s little bro who will kill you with kindness and happiness. Is basically a puppy who will cuddle you to submission. Worships his brother.
- CLARA: Will’s girlfriend who’ll save him because cute boys needing saving a lot; they are so incapable.
- FOX: a shapeshifter who Jacob saved and who saves Jacob at least 76 times a day and they are MADLY IN LOVE but will MADLY DENY IT. “Just friends”, pfft, save it. She’s epic, complex, capable, will bite you, and also cuddle you.
- DARK FAIRY: likes to play with people and kill them slowly. #1 hobby is messing with Jacob.
- THE BASTARD: Jacob’s rival in the treasure hunting business. Would like to shoot Jacob with shiny crossbow but then he would be bored with no one to squabble with??? Sherlock/Moriarty relationship. 10/10 am a fan.
- CHANUTE: Jacob’s mentor and is also Grumpy Cat.
- VALIANT: sassy dwarf who will sell you for a grape.
- ALMA: healer and will fix you up kindly when you get impaled with magic all the time; everyone’s mother; gives you The Look when you lie.
Precious. All of them. Help me I have too many feelings of adoration here.
6. IT’S ACTUALLY QUITE DARK ALTHOUGH NOT GRAPHIC.
I mean, heyyyyy you know me. DARK BOOKS FOR LIFE. (Or death. I don’t even know.) So I always say “the darker the better” but if you like stabbing but no graphicness than this is for you! But like the characters are not spared and if something bad is going to happen or someone’s going to get stabbed: IT GOES DOWN. They’re all always bleeding all over the place and yet keepin’ on keepin’ on until forced to take a nap.
But stabby levels = very pleasing.
7. THE PLOT HAS NO CHILL.
I mean, could these characters do with a nap? Yes. Will they get one? No. They go straight from facing monsters who eat children’s souls to busting people out of prison to kissing sleeping stone boys awake to getting magically cursed by fairies who’d like to see you dead yesterday. Also the pacing is A+! There’s lots of travel but it’s never boring. And we see SO MANY different countries (including a magical version of Russia!!) and settings and scenery.
8. IT TREATS WOMEN LIKE THE EPIC CREATIONS THEY ARE.
I get really sick of all the sexism I have to generally put up with in fantasy. This isn’t a world of equality, though, and most of the characters are men. But it has so many awesome women and they do NOT let themselves be walked over. I looooove it. We have Sleeping Beauty twists but the boy is asleep. And Fox/Jacob equally have to rescue each other.
9. THE ROMANCE IS SUPER SLOW BURN.
Lots of people love romance to feature in books, and this DOES have it! But it truly doesn’t overpower the main plots (rescuing brothers; finding treasures; breaking curses; not dying, etc.) and it’s absolutely one of my favourite ships. I mean, the way Fox and Jacob just dance around their feelings MADE ME WANT TO HIT THEM WITH A SMALL FRYING PAN. But #ShipIt. I tell you, I have not been invested in a romance like these two for quite some time omg. And this is ME. The unromantic VULCAN.
10. YOU SHOULD READ IT BECAUSE I SAID TO.
Come on. I HAD TO PUT THIS ON HERE. I am the Fury Queen and it’s imperative that you listen to me. I gave each book 4-stars (!!!!) and I’m suffocatingly in love with them. Dark and stabby and gorgeous I just — I AM AN IN INTENSE ADORATION. And there’s more coming. Apparently they’ll be 6!! I’m so happy. They’re creative and intense and unique and will stress out your small feelings. Such a fan here. SUCH A FAN. Also those covers are despicably gorgeous. I want to eat them all.
RECKLESS: THE PETRIFIED FLESH BY CORNELIA FUNKE
Ever since Jacob Reckless was a child, he has been escaping to a hidden world through a portal in his father’s abandoned study. Over the years, he has made a name for himself as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. He’s also made many enemies and allies — most important, Fox, a beautiful shape-shifting vixen whom Jacob cares for more than he lets on.
But life in this other world is about to change. Tragedy strikes when Jacob’s younger brother, Will, follows him through the portal. Brutally attacked, Will is infected with a curse that is quickly transforming him into a Goyl — a ruthless killing machine, with skin made of stone.
Jacob is prepared to fight to save his brother, but in a land built on trickery and lies, Jacob will need all the wit, courage, and reckless spirit he can summon to reverse the dark spell — before it’s too late.