Reckless (Funke novel)
|Cover artist||Steve Wells and Plant43|
|September 14, 2010|
|Media type||Print paperback|
Reckless is a 2010 young adult novel by Cornelia Funke and Lionel Wigram. It is the first book in her new MirrorWorld series, and her first novel since Inkdeath (2008). Published on 14 September 2010, Reckless was inspired by the tales of the Brothers Grimm. Lionel Wigram helped to develop Reckless with Funke. The combined printing run for the first hardcover edition was 1,000,000 copies. In Germany, Cornelia Funke's home country, Reckless debuted at #1 on the best-seller list. A sequel, Fearless, has been released on September 16, 2012.
Reckless opens with twelve-year-old Jacob Reckless entering his missing father's study and discovering a strange mirror. Finding a note containing cryptic instructions, Jacob presses his hand against the glass to obscure his face. When he removes his hand, he finds himself standing in front of an identical mirror in an abandoned tower. This world is referred to by Jacob as the Mirrorworld. The Mirrorworld is similar to this world, but has not progressed as far technologically, and magic still runs rampant.
Twelve years after Jacob finds his way through the mirror, Jacob's brother Will finally follows Jacob into the Mirrorworld. Soon after Will arrives, he is attacked and scratched by a Goyl, a humanoid race with stone skin. As a result of the attack, Will's skin begins turning to stone. This curse that turns human skin to stone was created by the Dark Fairy, the Goyl King's lover. Jacob knows that the stone will soon invade his entire body, and Will will become one of the Goyl. Jacob has already lost both of his parents and cannot bear to lose his brother so he rides off in search of a cure. His old friend and mentor, Chanute, tells him that the berries that grow in the garden of child-eating witch may cure Will of the curse of the stone skin. Will sneaks back through the mirror to say goodbye to his girlfriend Clara over the phone. Clara races to Will's house, only to discover the secret of the mirror herself.
With time running out, Jacob, Will, Clara and Jacob's vixen friend, Fox, journey to the witch's house, which lies deserted. When they arrive, they realize that they're being pursued by The Tailor, a creature that gets its name from how it tailors its clothing from the skin of its victims. Jacob and Fox fight The Tailor, with Will and Clara inside the gates, which The Tailor cannot enter, but Jacob is wounded on the shoulder during the fight. Will takes the berries, and they sleep. In the morning, Will's condition has not changed; the berries did not work. In another attempt to save his brother, Jacob decides to return to the Red Fairy, whom he had been enamored with for over a year, in the hope that he can convince her to help break the curse. Jacob assumes the Red Fairy will be able to break the curse because she is the Dark Fairy's sister. Meanwhile, Hentzau, the Goyl King's right hand, leads a group of Goyl soldiers to find Will, whose skin is turning to jade. The jade Goyl is legendary among their people as the ultimate protector for their King, Kami'en. The party rides to the Dwarf city Terpevas to enlist the help of Valiant, a dwarf who knows the secret location of the Valley of the Fairies. Jacob forces Valiant to join them at gunpoint.
The Goyl patrol ambushes the group before they are able to enter the Valley of the Fairies. Access to the Valley is secret, but with the help of Valiant, they are able to pass through the field of blood-thirsty unicorns. Jacob then rows to the Fairies' Island while the rest of the party wait on the shore of the lake. It doesn't take Jacob long to convince Miranda, the Red Fairy, to tell Jacob how to cure Will. Miranda tells Jacob that the curse will only be lifted when the Dark Fairy is destroyed, and tells him the means to accomplish this task. The journey to the Dark Fairy will take more time than Will has left, so she also tells Jacob how to put Will into a deep sleep, which effectively pauses the spread of the stone. As soon as Jacob returns, he leads them to the roses which Will must smell to send him to sleep. Like sleeping beauty, Will falls asleep when he is pricked. The Goyl Soldiers are told how to cross the unicorn boundary by Valiant, ambush them and shoot Jacob. They overpower the group and take the sleeping Will captive, and leave Clara and Fox to bury Jacob. Valiant, who has developed a soft spot for Clara, stays behind, and digs a grave for Jacob. While he does this, the moths of the Red Fairy flock to Jacob's body, and the Red Fairy brings him back from the dead.
Now on their mission to rescue Will, they travel cross country to the mountains underneath which the Goyl have built their capital city. Valiant agrees to help Jacob recover Will in return for a tree that produces golden sap. Valiant leads them to an unguarded entrance to the Goyl city. While in the mountains, Jacob and Clara accidentally drink from a stream of Lark's Water, which ignites passion between them. Fox finds Clara and Jacob kissing and becomes extremely jealous. Jacob and Valiant decide to leave Clara and Fox behind. Valiant manages to smuggle Jacob into the Goyl city, by pretending Jacob is a slave. Inside the city, Valiant asks merchants and traders if they know of the Jade Goyl's whereabouts. One merchant claims he is being held in the floating Palace, high above the main city. Numerous small high bridges pass the Palace, and Jacob decides that it will be easiest to enter the Palace from the bridges, climbing up the Palace walls and into a window. Valiant advises against this, but Jacob ignores him. Jacob uses waneslime to turn himself invisible and a Rapunzel hair to scale the building.
While Jacob is climbing the Palace Walls, he is ambushed by two snakes. He is captured, and questioned on the whereabouts of Clara and Fox. He is then tortured with scorpions, and passes into a deep sleep. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a cell next to a still sleeping Will, waiting to be woken by a kiss from his true love. Jacob realizes he has given away Clara's location under torture when the Dark Fairy arrives with Clara and Fox, who have been found and captured. Clara is sent into Will's cell to wake him from his sleep. Jacob wants to kill the Dark Fairy, but he needs contact to her, and she is too far away. Clara kisses Will, and he wakes. His is now completely Goyl, with no trace remaining of Will.
Will leaves his cell, so that he can protect the Goyl King Kami'en, and Clara is jailed in the cell next to Jacob, and Fox is locked up on the floor above them. When the Dark Fairy and her guard are gone, Valiant appears and rescues them all. They leave the city with the biplane which Jacob realizes his father built; Jacob now knows for certain that his father did disappear inside the Mirrorworld.
On their way back to the tower where the Mirror stands, Jacob decides he will not give up on Will. He tells Clara, Fox and Valiant that he is going to the Empire's capital city Vena for some business, and he catches a train, leaving them to return to the tower on their own. Jacob understands that going to Vena is his last chance to kill the Dark Fairy and undo the curse she put upon Will. Kamie'en is going to marry the Empress' daughter in order to make peace between the humans and the Goyl. This ceremony will take place in Vena. Once in the capital city, he sneaks into the Palace to spy on the Dark Fairy, who he finds in the same room as Will and Kami'en. Kami'en leaves, and Jacob, in a secret passage, bumps into an "official" Empire spy. Jacob knocks him unconscious, but the Dark Fairy and Will hear him, and Will breaks down the wall, and begins to fight with Jacob. Before any real damage is done, the fight is interrupted and Jacob is given an audience with the Empress, Therese of Austry. Jacob tells her that he must kill the Dark Fairy because of his brother and needs her help. She denies to help him in public, although later sends one of her officials to tell Jacob that the Dark Fairy takes a walk thorough the Palace Gardens every evening, and offers to give him access. That evening, Jacob ambushes the Dark Fairy. He touches her and says her true name, which turns her into a tree. She then promises that she will turn Will back into his human form, if Jacob allows him to protect the King during the wedding to the Empress' daughter.
Jacob steals a golden ball (from the Frog Prince (story)) from the Palace, which will trap anyone who catches it inside until it is polished. He plans to use this ball to trap Will, so that he could be returned to his human form. Jacob attends the wedding, as do Clara, Valiant and Fox. The Empress, knowing that the Dark Fairy has been destroyed by Jacob, has ordered an attack on the Goyl King and his people during the ceremony. The Cathedral turns into a bloodbath, and many of the humans die. Just as the Dark Fairy seemed to know, Will successfully defends Kami'en. Jacob realizes he has played into the Empress' hands and led the Goyl to a slaughter without the Dark Fairy, so he shouts her name to release her from the tree. The Black Moths of the Dark Fairy fill the Cathedral, poisoning hundreds of humans. Jacob tries to protect Clara from the moths by using the tricks the Red Fairy taught him. Eventually the Goyl win the battle, and the Dark Fairy turns all the blood on the clothes of those alive into roses. The wedding ceremony continues, and after the marriage all those still alive parade outside, secretly being taken hostage, through the people who have no idea of the slaughter that just occurred.
After the wedding, Jacob meets with the Dark Fairy, who tells him that she will return Will to his human form under the condition that Jacob take him very far away, because if she sees him again, she will kill him. Jacob manages to catch Will in the golden ball and the Dark Fairy returns him to his human form while still trapped. Jacob asks the Dark Fairy the price for returning Will to his true form, and the Dark Fairy replies that he has already paid it. He learns that anyone who says the Dark Fairy's true name will have only a year to live.
Jacob then returns to the tower with Clara, Fox and Valiant. When they arrive at the tower, Jacob tells Clara to polish the golden ball until she sees her reflection. As she does this, Will is released, completely human again, and he embraces Clara. Jacob then tells them that they must leave the Mirrorworld, and so Will and Clara pass through the mirror once again.
Fox, knowing there must have been a price for it, asks Jacob what it was, but Jacob doesn't tell her. He realizes that in the Mirrorworld, there is always a cure, and he sets off to find it.
- Jacob Reckless: The protagonist of the book, Jacob is a 24-year-old who discovers a secret world behind the mirror in his missing father's study. Jacob escapes to the Mirrorworld for weeks or months at a time. He views family and friends as a burden, and prefers a life where the consequences of his actions do not harm those he loves. He is named after Jacob Grimm.
- Will Reckless: Jacob's younger brother who is very dependent on his older brother. He is named after Wilhelm Grimm. The first time Will follows Jacob into the Mirrorworld, he is attacked by a Goyl, a race of stone men that live beyond the mirror. Will's skin begins to turn stone, as he becomes the legendary jade Goyl.
- Clara: Will's girlfriend. They met in a hospital, where Clara was a resident and where Will was caring for his dying mother. Clara follows Will into the Mirrorworld to find him partially turned to stone.
- Fox (born Celeste): One of Jacob's few friends. She is a shapeshifter, and mostly she prefers to be a vixen. She travels with Jacob after he saves her life, and understands him at times better than Jacob himself. Fox get the power to shapeshift through a dress she got after saving a vixens life. She is maximum 15 years old, but still a very adult character. She is in love with Jacob. Foxes are given supportive and major roles in 6 of the Grimms' fairy tales.
- Evenaugh Valiant: A dwarf who eventually accompanies Jacob on his mission to cure Will. Dwarves are famous mainly in the Grimms' Snow White, but have appeared casually in other stories.
- The Dark Fairy: Kami'en's lover. She created the spell that caused any physical attack from a Goyl to turn a man into Goyl himself. She is despised by the other Fairies for leaving their home.
- Miranda the Red Fairy: Sister to the Dark Fairy. She saves dying Jacob after he had been attacked by Unicorns while treasure hunting.
- Kami'en: The King of the Goyl. The first carnelian to lead the Goyl. An excellent strategist who has led the Goyl to victory over the humans of the Mirrorworld.
- Hentzau: The King's right hand, and a jasper Goyl. He is sent by the King and the Dark Fairy to find the jade Goyl.
- Albert Chanute: A fellow treasure hunter, and the closest thing Jacob has to a father-figure.
Grimm tales mentioned in Reckless
- The Frog Prince
- The Table, the Ass, and the Stick
- Snow White
- Hansel and Gretel
- "Sleeping Beauty"
Publishers Weekly gave a mixed response, saying that the "writing is beautiful on one page, clunky on another" and that the "rich re-imagining of familiar fairy tale details is the best part, as there is little character development".
School Library Journal praised the book, saying that if "Percy Jackson and the Olympians sent kids to the library asking for Greek myths, Reckless will have them wanting the original fairy tales Funke weaves throughout her story."