Title: Inkheart
Author: Cornelia Funke
Narrator: Lynn Redgrave
ISBN: 0807220108
Pages: 534 pages
Discs/CDs: 14 CDs, 15 hours 36 minutes
Publisher/Date: Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group, c2003.

Meggie has led a quiet life with her bookbinder father Mo, surrounded by books and reveling in the enjoyment they provide her. One late night however, a mysterious man called Dustfinger visits their farmhouse, calling Mo “Silvertongue” and insisting that Mo is in danger. Meggie and Mo flee to her mother’s aunt Elinor’s house, but danger follows them in the form of Capricorn, a deadly man who arrived quite by accident from the pages of the book Inkheart years ago. Capricorn is convinced that Mo can help him release the rest of his crew from the story to wreak havoc against the real world he now finds himself. Meggie must enlist the help of her book obsessed aunt, a young boy, and Dustfinger, who has questionable motives of his own for recovering the book, in order to rescue her father and set to rights the mistake that was made years ago.

I loved everything about this book! I loved the original cover, which is the one pictured above. I loved the narration and the descriptions and the dialogue. I loved the tone and the pacing and the plot. I loved the characterizations and the characters and the plot. Inkheart was written with book lovers in mind, and I’m certainly one of them. While children will understand and rejoice in the action packed plot, librarians and older readers understand the eloquent descriptions which fill the pages. I was throughly engaged by Lynn Redgrave’s narration of the book, which contrasts the characters nicely between the raspy textures of the evil henchmen, the sweetly innocent voice of Meggie and the indignant tones of Elinor. In fact, I think Elinor is one of my favorite characters, as she berates everyone’s actions equally and has a tendency to hyperventilation. There was only one thing that I wished the audio had done differently, and that’s I wish they had included all the great quotes that Funke had included in the printed book before each chapter. Flipping through the print version, the quotes really tied in well with the chapters and covered a wide range of sources, including several from Princess Bride (a movie I enjoyed but another book that people are amazed to find out I haven’t read — YET.)

The adventure is palatable but some events might prove a little scary for some younger audiences. Basta, Capricorn’s right hand man, wields a knife with deadly accuracy and quite often is found putting it up against someone’s neck or face. As they say in the books at one point, it makes for delicious reading but a very deadly real life situation. But the cruelty is in context and reinforces Basta’s and Capricorn’s characters and also Meggie’s fears towards the villans. And believe me, the villans are NASTY.

All of the characters’ actions seem believable and the character development is “spot on”. Each has their own fears and strengths and weaknesses and motivations, and you really get to dive in and grasp each one in turn. I’d been told I should have read this book when it first came out, being a librarian and loving books as much as Mo, Elinor, and Meggie love books. In fact, I’ll leave you with a scene that has me picturing librarians everywhere swooning over Elinor’s house:

“How many books do you have?” asked Meggie. She had grown up among piles of books, but even she couldn’t imagine there were books behind all the windows of this huge house.
Elinor inspected her again, this time with unconcealed contempt. “How many?” She repeated. “Do you think I count them like buttons or peas? A very, very great many. There are probably more books in every single room of this house than you will ever read — and some of them are so valuable that I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot you if you dared touch them.” […]
There were no haphazard piles lying around as they did at home. Every book obviously had its place. But where other people have wallpaper, pictures, or just an empty wall, Elinor had bookshelves. The shelves were white and went right up to the ceiling in the entrance hall through which she had first led them, but in the next room and the corridor beyond it the shelves were as black as the tiles on the floor. (36-37)