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Book Review

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the second 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


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Ten years ago, Mo Folchart magically read a few characters out of a book called Inkheart and accidentally sent his wife, Resa, into the story of the book. He was nicknamed Silvertongue because of his ability to read people in and out of stories. Only Mo, Meggie and a handful of others can read people in and out of stories.

When Inkspell opens, Mo is living with his 13-year-old daughter, Meggie, and his wife, who has returned from the Inkworld. Dustfinger, a character from the story who was stranded in Mo's world for 10 years, finds someone to successfully read him back into his own story.

Meggie enjoys Inkheart so much that she wants to live within its pages. She reads herself and Farid, an apprentice fire-eater who was left behind when Dustfinger returned to his story, into the book. But once there, they find that the story has gone awry, and the book's author, Fenoglio, who is also within the book, is powerless to stop new plot developments.

The Laughing Prince of Ombra does nothing but grieve for his deceased son, Cosimo the Fair, who did not die in the original book. The Adderhead, an evil ruler on the other side of the woods, now threatens Ombra's safety. Farid finds Dustfinger with his family, and there is some tension between Dustfinger's long-lost sweetheart, Roxane, and Farid. They both crave Dustfinger's love and attention.

Fenoglio believes he can fix all that is wrong with the Inkworld by bringing Cosimo back to life. Fenoglio recruits Meggie to read his words, and they bring a version of Cosimo back into the story, but this Cosimo has lost his memories and wants to wage war on the Adderhead instead of simply protecting his subjects from the man's threat. The new Cosimo dies, along with most of the men of Ombra, at the Adderhead's hands.

Although Capricorn, a villain in this story, died in Meggie's world, his mother, Mortola, and his murderous henchman, Basta, want revenge. They get a man named Orpheus to read them, Mo and Resa into the Inkworld. Basta takes a gun with him, and Mortola uses it to shoot Mo. Resa barely keeps him alive by staving off the White Women who want to collect his body.

Once Mo recovers, he finds that he bears a resemblance to a legendary thief called the Bluejay. The Adderhead captures Mo, and Meggie reads more of Fenoglio's words to save Mo. As they become a part of the storyline, Mo binds a book that allows the Adderhead to live forever, unless three words are written in this blank book. This allows Mo and Meggie to escape from the newly immortal Adderhead, along with others from the Adderhead's dungeons. As Dustfinger and Farid assist them in their escape, Basta kills Farid.

Dustfinger loves Farid as if the teen were his own child. He finds a way to make a trade with the White Women — his life for Farid's. Farid returns from the dead, and vows to bring Dustfinger back to life and give this tragic story a happy ending.

Christian Beliefs

Heaven and hell are mentioned casually, not as if they were real places. Angels, demons and the Devil also are mentioned in conversation. Orpheus describes the Bible as a book that advocates vengeance and quotes part of the verse about requiring "an eye for an eye."

Other Belief Systems

Several characters fear the ghosts that live in the Inkworld. In both the real world and the Inkworld, writing words or reading words aloud is a powerful act of creation. Fenoglio, Mo, a man named Darius, Meggie and Orpheus have the power to read characters in and out of stories with varying degrees of success. This is a magical ability.

The White Women rule over death, and they are regarded with fear and awe. The Inkworld is full of fantasy creatures such as fairies and tiny men made out of glass. Meggie is called a witch by several characters. Fenoglio says that Death itself has taken over his story.

Authority Roles

Farid loves and obeys Dustfinger, but Dustfinger is such a loner that when he materializes in the Inkworld without Farid, he happily adjusts to life without the boy. Dustfinger's callous behavior evaporates when Farid arrives in the Inkworld. Dustfinger realizes how much he has missed his apprentice, and he forms such a close relationship with him that many people mistake Farid for Dustfinger's son. Dustfinger admits he was a poor father to his daughters in the Inkworld, even before he was taken from the Inkworld, and he can barely bring himself to speak to his teenage daughter, Brianna, because she resents his neglect. Dustfinger gives his own life to bring Farid back from the dead.

Meggie adores her father and dislikes arguing with him. Mo and Resa are loving parents, and Meggie is willing to risk her safety to save them from harm, but she fails to listen to their advice. Meggie goes against her parents' wishes, and she tries to love her mother, but often resents her time with Mo. Meggie calls her parents by their first names.

Those in authority, Meggie's parents and other adults, accept and sometimes encourage Meggie's relationship with Farid as an adult boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, in spite of her age. She is only 13.


There are occasional uses of the words b--tard, bloody, h---, d--n and b--ch. God's name is taken in vain a handful of times.

The Adderhead is said to keep the finger bone of a hanged man with him, for protection from the White Women. Basta once slashed Dustfinger's face with a dagger, and Dustfinger still has the scars. Mortola shoots Mo with a gun, and his gushing blood is described at length. In the Inkworld, anyone who is caught stealing has his hand chopped off.


Meggie is 13, and her newly developed chest is mentioned. Farid accidentally sees Meggie in her underclothes. Farid kisses Meggie a few times, and many characters make references to Farid and Meggie's love-struck behavior.

Dustfinger and Roxane were never married, though they had children together. Many suitors who wanted to make an honest woman out of Roxane courted her, but she preferred her cohabitation with Dustfinger. Dustfinger and Roxane seem to treat their relationship like a common-law marriage, something with a degree of permanence.

Rape is hinted at several times when the book says that the women of the Motley Folk are often attacked by bad men. A villain called The Piper has had his nose cut off by the angry father of a girl he seduced. The newly created Cosimo does not love his wife and is infatuated with Dustfinger's teenage daughter, Brianna. Brianna spends her nights with Cosimo, and sex is implied.

Discussion Topics

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

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Characters drink wine.

Lying: Many characters lie to one another. Meggie deceives her parents when she leaves them for the Inkworld. Farid lies to Dustfinger about a life-threatening situation.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

9 and up


Cornelia Funke






Record Label



The Chicken House, Ltd., an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.


On Video

Year Published





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