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Book Review

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the third book in the "Inkheart Trilogy" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Bookbinder Mo Folchart is living in the Inkworld with his wife, Resa, and 13-year-old daughter, Meggie. The story of the Inkworld has changed from what was written in the original book, and Mo is trying to help the people of Ombra survive. The evil ruler who is taking over most of the Inkworld, the Adderhead, has become immortal because he possesses a magical artifact referred to as the White Book that Mo created for him. To kill the Adderhead, Mo must steal the book and write three magical words in it, but no one knows where the book is kept. The citizens of Ombra still believe that Mo is the legendary robber called the Bluejay, and now Mo is actually taking on the role of the Bluejay by robbing the rich to feed the poor. Mo is concerned about Meggie's and Resa's safety. Resa is expecting a baby.

Dustfinger, one of the heroes from a previous book, is dead after giving up his life for his fire-eater apprentice, Farid. Farid now works for a devious writer called Orpheus in hopes that Orpheus will use his writing and speaking skills to bring Dustfinger back from the dead. Unfortunately, Orpheus is more interested in creating wealth for himself than helping Farid. Fenoglio, the original author of the Inkworld, is also in this book world, and he is depressed over his ruined story. He rarely goes out and refuses to write, not even to help Dustfinger come back to life or to help Mo defeat the Adderhead.

Mo travels to Ombra Castle to see Balbalus, a book illuminator. Mo is ambushed at Ombra Castle and led to Violante, the Adderhead's daughter. He is surprised to hear that Violante wants to overthrow her father and needs Mo's help. Violante hides him from her spoiled child, Jacopo, and helps Mo escape from the castle before his enemies discover him. Resa is not happy that Mo risked his life in order to see books. She wants to go back to their alternate world on Earth, but they can't leave the Inkworld unless Fenoglio writes them back.

Mo, the Black Prince and the other robbers hear that the Piper, a servant of the Adderhead, is collecting local children to work in the silver mines. The Piper tells the widowed women of Ombra that they can only save their children from slavery if they turn over the Bluejay. Resa fears for Mo's life. She asks Fenoglio to read her family back home to their own world, but Fenoglio refuses. Resa goes to Orpheus and asks him to read her family back to their home, but Orpheus will only do it if Mo summons the White Women, the daughters of Death, for him. Orpheus wants to speak to the White Women so he can negotiate with them to bring Dustfinger back to life.

Mo summons the White Women, the daughters of Death, and they take him to the realm of Death. Death, a character, is angry with Mo for making the Adderhead immortal by creating the White Book. Death sends Mo back to the Inkworld with Dustfinger, on the condition that Mo write the words in the book that will kill the Adderhead. If Mo fails, Death will reclaim him, as well as Meggie and Dustfinger.

The Piper follows through with his promise to capture all the children near Ombra Castle. Mo turns himself in so the Piper will release the children. After the children are free, Violante and her soldiers rescue Mo and take him to the old, abandoned Castle in the Lake to wait for the chance to kill the Adderhead. Fenoglio begins to write again, in order to change the story.

Meggie, Fenoglio and the Black Prince find a safe place for the children of Ombra to stay while the kingdom is in turmoil. Meanwhile, Resa travels to the Castle in the Lake to warn Mo of the danger he may be in from a villainess called Mortola and from some of his own robber friends. The Adderhead's soldiers kill Mortola and the robbers before they can reach Mo, though, because the Adderhead wants to kill Mo himself.

At the Castle in the Lake, the Adderhead's men sneak into the castle and attack Violante's soldiers. The Piper locks Mo in a cage, and Dustfinger appears to die when a magical creature called a Night-Mare attacks him. Dustfinger comes back to life after the soldiers have left him, and he meets Resa, who has temporarily turned herself into a bird with the help of some magical seeds. Working together, Resa and Dustfinger rescue Mo from his imprisonment.

Violante's young son, Jacopo, realizes how evil his grandfather is and steals the Adderhead's White Book to give it to Mo. Mo writes the words heart, spell and death in the book, and the immortality spell breaks and kills the Adderhead. In the chaos after the Adderhead's death, the Piper injures Resa, and Mo kills the Piper. Orpheus escapes to the northern part of the Inkworld to try to weave his magic without interference. Mo, Resa and Meggie are reunited, as are Dustfinger, Roxane, Brianna, Roxane's son and Farid. The two families settle in the Inkworld, though Farid decides to go traveling on his own.

Years in the future, all the citizens of Ombra are living peacefully. Meggie's young brother is growing up and longing to visit the parallel world of Earth that is full of technology that he has never seen. Fenoglio is still in the Inkworld, and there is a possibility that he may be persuaded to write the unnamed Folchart boy back to his parents' world.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

In the Inkworld, words have power to change reality. Writers like Fenoglio and Orpheus can write down actions or events on paper, and if readers like Mo, Meggie or Orpheus read the words out loud, the events actually occur.

Orpheus wants to raise Dustfinger from the dead by talking to the White Women, the goddesses of Death in the Inkworld. Orpheus uses voodoo objects, such as chicken blood and a bag of children's bones, to summon the White Women, but his rituals do not work. Mo is the only living person in the Inkworld who can summon the White Women.

Monsters called Night-Mares are said to be human souls so filthy that the White Women send them back to wander the earth. The Night-Mare who attacks Dustfinger is revealed to be the soul of Basta, a villain who died in the previous book.

Mo summons the White Women, and they take him to meet Death, who appears as an ever-changing creature, a shape shifter of sorts. Death claims to be all-powerful, the source of human life as well as death. When Dustfinger returns from the dead, some people think he is a demon or ghost. By the end of the story, Dustfinger gains the ability to die and come back to life at will.

Farid believes in ghosts and fears them. Dustfinger's daughter, Brianna, calls Farid a demon when she is angry. The evil Mortola finds a way to turn herself into a bird, and later Resa learns to change herself into a bird as well. Mo is dead for three days and returns to life again. Mo has a lot of questions about his identity as the Bluejay. Sometimes he regards the brave, daring side of his personality as if it were an entirely different person.

Authority Roles

Mo loves his family and tries to keep them out of danger. He also lies to them about his activities as the Bluejay. Mo is an authority figure in the Inkworld because he has joined the Black Prince of the Motley Folk in defending villages full of woman and children from raids by the Milksop's soldiers. Mo does not like killing, but when he meets a group of soldiers preparing to raid a village, he and his men resolve to kill every soldier so none of them can escape to destroy the village later on.

Mo seems to demonstrate poor judgment on a few occasions. He travels to Ombra Castle, a stronghold of his enemies, in order to see some priceless books. He is repeatedly warned that he will be recognized and captured, but he does not listen to counsel. When his wife wants to go back to their story in the parallel world of Earth, Mo comes up with excuses to stay in the Inkworld. Mo tells Resa that they are stuck in Ombra because Fenoglio will not write them back home, but the truth is that Mo loves living in the Inkworld and does not want to try to find a way to leave. Even when Resa begs him to find a way back to Earth, Mo says he is not ready to leave.

Fenoglio does not miss his own family on Earth, but he believes that they must miss him after so many months' absence. Fenoglio seldom shows compassion for the people who inhabit the world he created, but he finally develops some sympathy when he sees young children being kidnapped and mistreated.

Dustfinger loves his family and he gave his life for Farid, but he has very little control over his teenage daughter, Brianna. At the end of the book, Brianna is willing to be killed by the Night-Mare rather than have it harm her father. Dustfinger destroys the Night-Mare and saves Brianna, which repairs their relationship. When Dustfinger thinks of the people he loves the most, he thinks of Roxane, Brianna and Farid as his family members, leaving out young Jehan, Roxane's son from a previous marriage.

The Black Prince is a leader of robbers, but he cares for the poor people of Ombra. He finds a farmhouse for Mo, Resa and Meggie to live in while they are in the Inkworld because he knows that Resa does not want to live inside the robbers' camp.

Resa is devoted to her husband, Mo. She is a good friend to Roxane, who is grieving over Dustfinger's death. Resa tries to find a way to transport her family out of the Inkworld, but none of her plans succeed. She risks her life on several occasions while trying to save her husband. She and Meggie have an awkward relationship, though they are mother and daughter because Resa had been read into the Inkworld for most of Meggie's growing years. At times they work together as equals, and at other times they vie for Mo's attention.

Roxane is a healer. She takes care of Resa while Resa has morning sickness. She hates Farid and refuses to show him Dustfinger's hidden grave because she blames him for Dustfinger's death. Roxane cares for her son Jehan, her child from a previous marriage. Roxane is a wise woman and she is the person who knows how to make an antidote when the Black Prince is poisoned.

Orpheus is a selfish man. He makes Farid work for him like a slave. Orpheus allows his servant Oss to hurt Farid by hitting him, tripping him, pulling his hair and putting broken glass in his mattress. Orpheus makes part of his wealth by reading unusual objects into existence. Some of his new creations are living beings, such as fire-elves and river-nymphs, and they die quickly because he has made them incorrectly. Farid notes that the amount of treasure Orpheus creates for his own comfort could be sent to feed the starving citizens of Ombra.

Profanity/Violence

Words such as d--n, h--- and b — tard are used occasionally, as well as the term suck up. God's name is used in vain with words such as for, sake and good.

Mo and the Motley Folk fight and kill the Adderhead's soldiers. Blood and crushed limbs are mentioned, and a hanged man's body swings in the air over Farid as he digs up treasure for Orpheus. The Milksop, who is similar to a governor in Ombra, likes to hang people, and he is said to make his wigs out of the hair of hanging victims. There are numerous swordfights and descriptions of blood, wounds and dying people. The Piper has a mutilated face with a false silver nose. Thieves have their hands chopped off. Men who throw vegetables at the Milksop are torn into pieces and fed to the Milksop's hounds. Mo begins to wear black clothes because he does not want the blood that frequently stains his clothes to be too apparent.

The Adderhead's men, on horses, trample some of the children of Ombra while they are kidnapping them. They use the children to make a trade for the Bluejay.

The Bluejay and a leader of the traveling players go out each night to work in the fields or defend small towns against soldiers. There are so few men because most of them were slaughtered in a battle with the Adderhead's soldiers at an earlier time. Blue Jay and the leader of the traveling players do what they can to keep the families of Ombra from starving or being bullied out of what little they have.

Since the Adderhead is immortal, he enjoys playing games that prove how little he fears death. It is said that he lets prisoners run him through with a sword before he kills them with the same sword. The Adderhead has Balbalus' right hand chopped off to punish Balbalus for his support of Violante. The Adderhead bathes in the blood of fairies.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Resa and Mo are expecting a child, but reproduction is not discussed. Meggie is 13 and Farid is about 16. (The text does not specify Farid's age, but a boy of 14 or 15 is said to look younger than Farid.) Farid kisses Meggie a handful of times throughout the novel, and he thinks about girls who he has kissed in the past. Mo hears Meggie whisper Farid's name in her sleep. Mo wonders whether a young person's first experience of falling in love is the event that transforms her into an adult. When Meggie asks Mo to leave the Inkworld, Mo believes her reason rests in the fact that Farid is no longer spending time with her. Meggie is saddened that Farid loves Dustfinger as a father figure more than he loves her.

Mo tells Resa that Meggie will not want to leave the Inkworld because she is in love with Farid, but Resa says Meggie will fall in love with someone else eventually. Resa's prediction comes true when Meggie develops feelings for 15-year-old Doria, the smart younger brother of a thief called the Strong Man. Farid kisses Meggie in front of Doria to prove that he matters more to Meggie than Doria does. At the end of the novel, Farid asks Meggie to run away with him and travel from village to village. Meggie refuses and chooses to stay with Doria. The story implies that later on Meggie and Doria marry, but the story is not clear about how old they are when they marry.

When Dustfinger is dead, Roxane is called Dustfinger's widow, although they never married. Roxane and Dustfinger kiss, as do Mo and Resa. A fire-eating man named Sootbird is said to have three lovers among the ladies of the court of Ombra. The Strong Man explains to Meggie that he and his younger brother, Doria, have different fathers.

Orpheus kisses and gropes the underage girls who work as his maids. It is implied that the impoverished girls would not mind prostituting themselves with Orpheus for the joy of having money and new dresses. Most of their families are close to starving.

Dustfinger's young teen daughter, Brianna, loved Princess Violante's husband, Cosimo, and had an affair with him in the previous book. Dustfinger says Brianna loved Cosimo so much, she would rather have Cosimo come to life again than Dustfinger. Violante herself is in love with Mo, who is married to Resa. Violante tells Mo to send his wife away so she can make him the Prince of Ombra, but Mo refuses.

Orpheus creates a story to explain his wealth to the people of Ombra. He says he is the illegitimate son of a king and that he had to leave his own country when his brother's wife fell in love with him.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Characters drink wine. Fenoglio becomes an alcoholic. It is said that the Milksop's soldiers are often drunk. Rosenquartz, the tiny glass man who serves Fenoglio, demands thimblefuls of wine.

Insults: Farid always has an insult ready for Orpheus. He generally calls Orpheus Cheeseface and compares him to a maggot worming into a side of bacon and a perfumed pig's bladder.

Stealing: Most thieves in the story are portrayed in a positive light. The Black Prince and his followers are all professional thieves, but their deeds are justified to most of the characters in the story because they steal from the tyrannical Milksop.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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