Another series up to date! Am I on a roll or what?
Fearless. Mirrorworld Book 2. by Cornelia Funke
I had to switch to reading in print only because my library didn’t have the next book on audio. This is the second book in the series, and so has spoilers for the first book. In the first book, Jacob Reckless succeeded in breaking the curse on his brother, but the cost was a curse that gives him a maximum of one year to live. Naturally, he hasn’t been able to tell this to anyone – not his brother and Clara, back in our world, nor yet his best friend Fox in the Mirrorworld. After all, there’s a cure for everything in the Mirrorworld. At the very beginning of this book, he tries two separate magical remedies, each more dangerous than the last, and the last ones his mentor can think of, but nothing works. Now it’s on to the very last resort, the mythical Witch Slayer’s crossbow. The major mythic power is that of being able to kill any enemy, no matter how large, but Jacob has pieced together a less common myth, and hopes that if it’s shot at him by someone who loves him, it will save his life instead. Now he must share his secret with Fox. But they must also keep their goal as secret as possible, because the politics of the Mirrorworld are not peaceful, and no monarch would hesitate to use the crossbow to wipe out an entire opponent’s army, or perhaps even entire nations. The most famous of all Goyl treasure hunters, Nerron, known as the Bastard, is also in on the search for the crossbow. The narrative is split between Jacob, Fox, and Nerron, so we know that Nerron is doing just as well with the search as Fox and Jacob (if not better), and there is every chance of Nerron letting them find part of what they need and snatching it from them before the end. Additionally, Jacob is given a business card in our world with just a name on it, Erl King. This made my skin all creepy crawly, because of the classic Goethe poem, but Jacob doesn’t recognize the name, and while the card gives Jacob the occasional message, the mystery is never resolved.
As in the previous book, it’s a dark yet beautiful world, and the stakes are higher than ever. It’s one narrow escape after another, and what keeps it from being a simple adrenaline/horror rollercoaster is the effort Funke puts both into the world and the characters. It’s clear why Jacob loves the Mirrorworld, and would keep returning to it even if he weren’t currently working to save his life. The taut relationship between Fox and Jacob is also a thing of beauty. Fox was a young girl when she first met Jacob, but she ages more quickly in her fox form, and is now only a little younger than him. There are definite romantic feelings on her side, while Jacob is fighting them, feeling that he needs to keep thinking of Fox as a little sister. Neither of them is in any doubt that the other is the most important person in their world, but the risk of spoiling their friendship if they try to take it to the next level and fail is more than either of them is willing to do. Meanwhile, they are constantly, of necessity, putting the person they love most in the world into danger. Nerron, too, is much more of a sympathetic character than one would expect of a non-human villain. I’m going to hope that there will be more Mirrorworld books, because while the official plot wraps up at the end, there are a lot of ends left hanging, and I want more.
It’s summer reading time, folks. And while for non-librarians, this may conjure up visions of reading on the beach, for me it’s trying to write reviews in between helping 20 or so kids an hour get their latest summer reading prize and find the next book. Fun, but exhausting, and I don’t really trust my sentence-writing ability in these circumstances, so please pardon any mistakes.