As a boy, Jacob Reckless found a way into a world of magic through a mirror in his father’s study. It was a world he tried to keep to himself, but that desire was frustrated when his younger brother Will discovered the secret and followed him.
We enter Cornelia Funke’s Reckless when the boys have reached adulthood, with Will suffering from wounds inflicted in a recent encounter with a Goyle, a stone-like race at war with the mirrorworld’s human population.
From the injuries a spreading petrification is taking over Will’s flesh. Jacob knows he has very little time to find a way of saving his brother. His search for help takes them through a place where many familiar fairytales have a foundation in reality.
While I found the first few chapters a bit unclear, it didn’t take long to get caught up in the brother’s situation. Joined by Will’s girlfriend Cara, and a shapeshifting fox, Jacob’s attempt to save Will takes us through fantastic landscapes and into contact with a variety of “fairytale” characters.
A story with references to ginger bread houses, child-eating witches, fairies, unicorns, dwarves and elves may sound excessively clichéd, but the story of Reckless is told with convincing grit without the slightest hint of cutesy Disney, or the grand epic feel of Tolkien. Well known fairy tale and fantasy references (like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel) give a surprisingly convincing familiarity to the world of Reckless, but are mainly used as background colour rather than primary plot features.
This was a book I didn’t look forward to finishing; a book I hope will lead to a sequel or even a series, revealing more of the characters and their world. It has definitely made me keen to look for more of Cornelia Funke’s work.