I decided to read Inkheart after I saw the good ratings on Amazon, but sadly I found it to be a disappointing waste of time. Inspired by books and libraries, the story is about 12-year-old Meggie who grew up without her mother. Her father Mortimer works as a bookbinder and has been searching desperately for years for a copy of the book 'Inkheart' which, unknown to Meggie, is the key to bringing her mother back. One day a mysterious fire eater Dustfinger shows up at their home and Meggie soon realizes that her family has the rare gift of being able to read things in and out of a book. It turns out that the gift is also a curse, for when her father read Inkheart many years ago characters came out of the book and sent someone in their place, and that was how Meggie lost her mother when she was still a baby. Meanwhile the evil villain Capricorn whom Mo released from Inkheart is determined to stay in this world and wants to destroy every copy of the book to make sure he does. With Dustfinger's help, Mo and Meggie must do everything they can to stop Capricorn and bring Meggie's mother back.
What I really liked about Inkheart is that it is a book-inspired story. Book lovers will enjoy reading about Mo's work as a bookbinder which include sawing and stitching books together and making trips to cozy bookshops. It was a treat to read about the mansion of Meggie's aunt Elinor in Italy which was beautifully lined with books along almost every wall, particularly the breathtaking library. The whole story is a tribute to books, reading, writers, and the written word.
With Inkheart, the phrase "The pen is mightier than the sword" literally comes to life. Funke really does make you think WHAT IF the characters written in a book could come to life, what would it be like? You can't help but find that that desire in you when you were still a child to actually meet your favorite characters and see those magical places is suddenly tapped. What if?
Characters. As a father and husband, Mo's role in the book was inspiring in that he would do everything he can to protect Meggie and get his wife back. Though at times he could be unreasonable, such as when he wouldn't tell Meggie the truth about how she lost her mother, he would eventually redeem himself. Aside from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, few children's books actually give the father a central role in the story. Meggie, on the other hand, doesn't seem to think and act like a 12-year-old. Elinor's book-obsessed and practical no non-sense personality was one of the characters which I thought was well built. I also believe that Funke meant the villains to be truly evil as described several times in the book. But when you actually meet them and you think they were about to do something truly evil they would suddenly fall short, much to my disappointment.
Plot. The story is somewhat vague as to where the story actually takes place, but when Mo and Meggie visit Elinor it does mention that her house is in Italy. Once the story starts, the plot takes a lot of long and winding circular twists and turns instead of being a strong linear one that slowly builds to a climax. Events seem to happen back and forth (i.e. the characters are captured, then they escape, then captured again, then escape) without the story really progressing and doesn't give you the feel that the story is building up to a climax.
All in all, Inkheart can be a treat if you love reading about books, libraries, and adventure but requires your patience to be able to read through the long circular plot of this almost 600-page book. 3.5 stars.