(my favorite fantasy writer!) Cornelia Funke, is a story about two brothers. Jacob Reckless, disappeares into a magic mirror and his brother, Will, embarks on a quest to bring him back. A curse of the evil Dark Fairy immediately begins Will's transformation into a jade-skinned guard of the King Kami'en. The journey takes Will, his girlfriend Clara, Jacob, Fox the shapeshifter, and an unlikely dwarf companion named Valiant, through a magical world with hints of familiar tales like Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel and filled with dwarves, deadly unicorns, watermen, lorelie and the dreaded stone-bodied goyl.
Wow! Wild! First off, the name - Reckless! Irresistable! And obviously - the cover is fantastic (unless you are my six-year old, then it's scary). True to her form, Funke's writing is descriptive and imaginative beyond the average cranial-whimsy. I loved how the story emphasized Jacob's love for his brother and the hints of his father's presence in both worlds. The storyline of Jacob's special relationship with fox was original - and which, by the way, would make a fantastic story of its own. I saw a hint of this being a series and hope the next book will encompass their relationship potential. Towards the end of the story it is full of twists and tricks - finally a story that doesn't sag before the climax! Her writing was descriptive I felt like I was in the castle, felt fearful of the finality of Will's transformation to jade, and even felt a bit afraid of him at times. It wrapped up with an ending to satisfy the reader, offering some closure with the possibility of continuing the journey.
My only complaint was that it was tough to follow the characters in the beginning, as they were sporatically introduced. I had trouble telling them one from another until halfway through the book. Even so, I loved how even if her characters start off as "bad" you end up sympathizing a little off and on with them. I would say this story fits clearly in Young-Adult due to the dynamics of the mature relationships in the story. A middle-grader may enjoy it but would need parental guidance with some of the storyline. That said - it makes a fabulous YA and YA loving adult fantasy novel.
I give Reckless 5 stars!