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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney


Inkheart - Cornelia Funke, Anthea Bell Inkheart is both a well-written and enthralling children's fantasy and, at the same time, a remarkably intelligent commentary on the nature of narrative. Laden with intertextuality, it is a splendid example of 'intrusion fantasy' - a work that examines the relationship between its own characters and characters designated within the book as fictional.

It's a tale about a book-loving child called Meggie, her father - a repairer of old books - and her misanthropic but equally bibliophile aunt, all of whose worlds are turned upside down because the villain of a novel that Meggie's father once read aloud has emerged from the story as a living, breathing and utterly terrifying individual. It's the ultimate writer's joke for this is a book in which the characters really do develop a life of their own.

Cornelia Funke's style is relaxed, accomplished and in many ways quite old-fashioned. She takes the time to build the story slowly, carefully incorporating imagery into her description in such a way as to build atmosphere and simultaneously to strengthen the thematic structure of her work. In the process she creates a host of memorable characters and a story that is a real page-turner.