Sweet Trouble

Rants, raves, book reviews and one girl's thoughts on life, the universe and everything.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cornelia Funke's Inkspell and Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian

Have you ever really wanted a book, only to wind up shelving it unread? I've had two novels which fell into that bizarre category in the past few years that I've only just gotten around to reading. Perhaps it was meant to be, and THIS is when I needed to read them (more apt to say that THIS is when I needed something to read) but it seems odd that a bookaholic such as myself should run hot and cold like that.

The book to be shelved was Cornelia Funke's Inkspell. I bought it the week it came out in 2005 with great fanfare. That also happened to be the release date for a new Tamora Pierce novel and maybe a Laurell K Hamilton book. Perhaps being distracted by other books had something to do with my loss of interest in Inkspell, I don't know. In anycase I never seemed to be in the mood to read it, despite it's lovely cover and my love of Funke's previous enstallment, and so it sat on my shelf from that day till this past week.

The other shelved book was The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, also published in '05. I'd heard early buzz on that one, and like the other had picked it up the week it came out. It didn't stay on the shelf as much; I actually took it down and hauled the giant tome around on a couple of vacations without ever cracking it open. I finally read them both this past week.

The Historian was an engaging epic along the lines of The DaVinci Code, only instead of being about conspiracies in the ancient church it chronicles the history of Dracula. The story is told through first person narrative plus letters, journals and other flashback methods. I enjoyed the lyric despcriptions of Europe over the years as much as anything to do with the vampire lore. At times I felt like I was reading a clever ad for tourism in the Eastern block. It is always nice to have a great big fat book that takes a couple of days to read and is compelling enough to make you want to read it. I enjoyed The Historian but I don't think it's a re-reader. Having spent almost two and a half years on my bookshelf unread, it's now doomed to storage or sale.

Inkspell is a keeper. I still can't believe it took me two years to get around to reading it. The book doesn't quite have the magic of it's predescessor Inkheart, but it would be hard to surpass that one. Inkheart is a once in a lifetime sort of story (especially for booklovers,) so calling Inkspell an enchanting second place is not such a bad thing. There will be a third novel in this trilogy called Inkdeath and I will buy it and enjoy it on my own, then someday I will read all of these books aloud to my kids and THEY will enjoy them too.