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Shantala N. Palat

By Cornelia Funke . Translated from the German by Anthea Bell. Cover illustration by Carol Lawson and inside illustration by Cornelia Funke.
Young Zubaan, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 534, Rs. 295.00


Following the bestseller The Thief Lord (2002) is another new novel, Inkheart by the German author Cornelia Funke. She might still have remained an unknown figure had it not been for a young fan of hers. The publisher and managing director, Barry Cunningham had received a letter from a bilingual (English and German) young girl living in England, who wanted to know why her favourite author wasn’t published in English. At her request, he tracked down the latest book by Cornelia Funke, Herr der Diebe and published its English translation, The Thief Lord. It became a phenomenal success!      Inkheart is the story of a twelve-year-old girl, Meggie and her father. Mo is a “book-doctor”, that is, he is an expert on the art of bookbinding. Like her father, Meggie has inherited his love for books. Books are her best friends, even better than her schoolmates. The young girl is deeply attached to her father. Her mother had left them when Meggie was three years old. It was also at that time when Mo stopped reading aloud to her. Though she could not understand why, she suspected Teresa’s going away had something to do with it. The mystery became clear when Dustfinger entered their lives one stormy night and “many years later, Meggie had only to close her eyes and she could still hear it, like tiny fingers tapping on the windowpane” (p. 1) Her life was now wrought with danger, fear and treachery. It was now up to Mo and Meggie as to how they could change the course of the events that threatened to destroy their lives.      The first chapter begins on a suspenseful note: “Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain (p. 1).  The beginning lines tease and call out, inviting the reader to eat up the printed words—to search for the clues—However the author tends to stretch out the climax, making one exhausted. As though to recollect herself midway, she jerks herself up by thrusting in various climaxes and dramatic events in the latter half of the novel. Yet she does it with great expertise. She is careful not to bombard her reader and at the same time, quickens the long arduous journey of Meggie and Mo to rescue Teresa from the evil Capricorn and his men.      Cornelia Funke’s characters inevitably have traces of J.K.Rowling, Tolkien and Roald Dahl in them. Meggie’...

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