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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Reckless 1: The Petrified Flesh
by Cornelia Funke
Age Range: 12+
When Jacob Reckless discovers the dangerous world behind the mirror the one thing he doesn’t anticipate is that Will, his younger brother, will follow him. Jacob has visited this mirrored world many times before. After his father mysteriously disappeared several years earlier Jacob had discovered that when he pressed his hand against the glass mirror in his father’s study he was transported into a different universe. Similar to his own in some ways, it had not progressed technologically and magic was still an important element of its make-up.
Jacob has become familiar with this other world and made both friends and enemies. For his brother Will, however, it is the first time he has encountered this place of dark magic and when he is attacked by one of the sinister and cold-blooded Goyls, a humanoid race with skin of stone, his flesh slowly turns to Jade as the stone pervades his body. It is up to Jacob, Will’s girlfriend, Clara (who has followed Will into the mirrored world and Fox, who shifts between animal and human form and is determined to protect Jacob at all costs, to find a way to save him. Time is running out for Will for soon he will become a Goyl.
The first title in the ‘Reckless’ series contains all the ingredients of fairy stories – fairies, dwarves, elves, unicorns and good and evil. There are many references to well-known fairy tales including Snow White, the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty – Will falls asleep when he is pricked by a rose thorn; The Frog Prince – Jacob steals a golden ball from the palace; Rapunzel – Jacob makes himself invisible with wane-slime, (slime from special snails), and creates Rapunzel hair from a single thread that he can use as a rope to scale the palace walls.
There is also political intrigue with the machinations of a Goyl king pitted against an empress, but there is also the human story of love, desire, loyalty and betrayal that binds everyone together. Jacob and Will already have a strained relationship and this will test their endurance to the very limit. Jacob has to save his brother but at what cost to himself?
Reckless: The Petrified Flesh by award-winning and best-selling German author Cornelia Funke is a revised and rewritten version of Reckless translated by Oliver Latsch with illustrations by the author and first published by Chicken House in 2010. In the author’s note at the back of the book Funke explains that the story remains unchanged, although there is not one page that hasn’t been altered. She has added much more depth to the characters and lots more detail about the mirrored world itself. This is a suspenseful and thrilling fantasy that is sure to engage all those fantasy fans. Look out for the next two titles in the series – ‘Living Shadows’ and ‘The Golden Yarn’.