takes after its name, with one brief chapter to set up the concept of a mirror world and the two protagonists, the real story starts in medias res, with Jacob reacting to his little brother, Will, turning into stone from a strange fairy curse. The story is breakneck, with short chapters that chronicle smaller journeys on the way to the bigger story of finding a cure for the stone curse.
Funke's writing is slightly stripped down in this one, different from The Thief Lord
in pacing and character insight. Sometimes the translation seems awkward, joining words that sound more informal and slang to formalized, almost archaic phrasings. Nevertheless, some of the passages and concepts transcend and take on a poetic nature. It is an easy book to read through, filled with interesting takes on fairy tales that seem to be the reality of the Mirrorworld.
What really brings the book down is the characters. Mostly in the fact that there aren't personalities to go with the named people beyond one defining trait. Jacob and Will are brothers, that is enough to make readers believe they will do anything for each other, but we never see it except for the narration assuring us it's true. Will's true love, Clara, has nothing beyond her devotion to him and her gentleness. Fox fares a little better, with her split loyalties between Jacob Reckless and the shape-shifting preference to be a fox, but it's still broad strokes and generalities for all characters involved.
One could argue that these characters are pared down to better suit a fairy tale inspired story, where the characters in short fairy tales had one or two defining personality traits and were more universal tropes than individuals. Taken in that vein, it works. But those looking for a psychological or empathetic character study will be very disappointed with Reckless
. There's also a habit of having the solution for a problem be presented as something Jacob ran into in his past journeys. Quick to get the action moving, but less satisfying for others who want to read more about the world and really soak in this land of children-eating witches, sovereign producing handkerchiefs, and fantastical elements.
Recommended for those who love fantasy and want plot over characters. It's quick, easy, and sometimes beautiful to read, but skips over the parts that would truly make it memorable in a race to get to the finish line.