Re-Read: Tintenblut (Cornelia Funke)

Tintenblut, translated as Inkspell, is the second book in the Inkworld Trilogy by Cornelia Funke.
Finished on: 9.9.2021
[Here’s my review of the first book.]
[Here’s my first review of this book.]

Dustfinger has finally found somebody who promises to read him back into his book – Orpheus. Orpheus keeps his promise, but also double-crosses him. So Farid stays behind and the book falls into the hand of Mortola and Basta. Farid knows he has to catch up with Dustfinger to warn him, so he returns to Meggie who lives with her parents Mo and Resa, as well as her aunt Elinor and the reader Darius in Elinor’s estate. When Farid tells her about Dustfinger returning, Meggie is dead-set on going to the Inkworld herself – together with Farid, of course. But she’s not the only one looking for a way in. And once in, the Inkworld is not without its own dangers.

Much like the first novel, Tintenblut is not the easiest read and it does take a while to get through it (and that’s not just because it’s a pretty long book). But I did like how Funke continues her world and her characters. I’m looking forward to the grand finale.

The book cover showing a mosaic of illustrated letters like at chapter beginnings. There's also twi figures under a tree at night, a portrait of a lady, the toers of a castle, a bird sitting on an open book, and a few figures around an open fire in the forest.

It’s been over 10 years that I read Tintenblut for the first time. Back then I decided to wait with continuing to read the series to make it last a little longer, but I had never planned for it to take this long. Anyway, I’m finally getting there and I am still looking forward to it.

Funke has created a sprawling world that feels much bigger than it actually is (it’s basically just two castles and a forest between them), probably because there are quite a few players involved in the story. So it may be no surprise that the book doesn’t spend too much time with the characters outside of the Inkworld, having enough to do with the characters inside, and the book is long enough as is. But I still regretted that we didn’t get to spend that much time with Elinor. She is one of my faves after all.

On the other hand, we did get to spend a lot of time with Dustfinger and learn more about him, getting more under his skin, and that is absolutely lovely. I loved the way the book doesn’t shy away from the complications, both in him as a character and in his family. The situation is fucked up and isn’t magically alright because he came back.

I loved how things with Fenoglio develop as well, although I don’t like where he ends up. But it makes sense for him as a character. And it makes sense in the way the world is structured that his meddling wouldn’t just make everything as he imagined it. Stories do have a life of their own, and you can’t just bend them any which way. He has to learn this – again.

While the story doesn’t do as Fenoglio would like, the way Mo gets subsumed by his place in the story was kind of the inverse of that, and also a very interesting idea very well executed. Because stories don’t just have a life of their own, they are social, interactive. We get something out of them, but we also put something in them, and they develop in this back and forth.

Yes, there were a couple of lengths here and there. It is still a book that requires some work on the part of the reader and doesn’t flow all that easily. But it is worth it for sure. And I can’t wait to finally get to the last part of the trilogy.

Summarizing: Engaging, but not easy entertainment.

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