Reckless is a YA fantasy adventure by the ever-revered (for good reason) Cornelia Funke.
Jacob Reckless has been passing through a mirror portal in his father's forgotten (or, rather, ignored) study for years now. After his father disappeared and his mother became a shell of her former self, he found it. Since then, it's been hard to stay tethered to his world - instead, he's become more and more connected to the alternative option.
In fact, he's managed to make a name for himself as a treasure hunter. And always by his side is a loyal vixen named Fox, a shape-shifter. She's probably the closest thing he has to a friend - but Jacob still considers himself a loner. But he's become comfortable with the different creatures, monsters, and magic this world has to offer - even though right now they are at war with a stone people called Goyl. None of that interests him. He just seeks out his mysterious objects and fetches good prices.
But that's all about to change. Because Jacob's brother Will has finally found the portal. He's always believed in Jacob, despite the fact that Jacob had left him to deal with their mother to her dying day, despite rarely ever being around. And now Will's been infected with the curse that many men throughout this land are terrified of - the curse that turns you into the enemy, into one of the Goyl. If it completes, Jacob's gentle, earnest, faithful brother will never be the same person - and it would all because he wanted, even at their late teen age, to follow his big brother.
Jacob has never had to take care of someone else in this world. It's dangerous enough without being infected. But he's determined to save his brother from a fate that seems to have no hope. No one has ever found a cure - or dared try.
But they call him Reckless for a reason.
Followers of this blog (you know who you are, and you're awesome!) will know I've only ever read/reviewed one other Cornelia Funke book and that was Dragon Rider. I thought that was an amazing, classic-feeling fantasy directed towards kids but insanely accessible to older readers as well. So this is my first time reading a book by her that actually features older characters.
In fact, if I'm doing my math right (and there's a very good chance I'm not - English was always my subject) Jacob may very well be in his early 20s in Reckless. This would make Will in his mid to late teens. This doesn't matter in the overall view, really, as long as it's a great book (which - surprise! - it is) - but I'll admit I was interested to see how it would differ from Dragon Rider because of that difference.
Reckless starts right out of the gate! Funke immediately caught my attention with the quick introduction to this portal in Jacob's father's study - a portal taking him, and us, to a mysterious world. And before we reach 20 pages we're already faced with a dilemma when we find out Will followed him and was infected with a curse.
Books that jump into the action so quickly can go one of two ways: the writing can fail to invest us in the characters and be too focused on the plot, or the writing can easily and craftily start filling in the blanks with character development, detail, and sweeping storytelling.
I'm happy to announce that, in my opinion, Reckless most definitely is in the latter category! This novel has a relentless adventure tone, a fully imagined setting, and a tough, brooding hero. Cornelia Funke managed to write new, scary beings into this fantasy world - creatures and monsters that are legitimately creepy and fascinating to read about. And what's so interesting is that our main character, Jacob, is completely aware of most of it, even as we take it in with awe and wonder. Oh, how I love a good fantasy adventure!
Reckless is heavily populated with original characters and ideas, danger, and obstacles at every turn. This is a place of twisted fairy-tales and horrors - delightfully fun and seriously epic! There's romance, creativity, and (like I said with Dragon Rider) a classic-like thrill that abounds throughout the entire book. I can see the talent brimming here that I saw in Dragon Rider, only darker and more mature. Awesome.
The frenzied quest for a cure brings out amazing depth in Jacob, as he must face his neglect of Will. Reckless is extremely fast-paced and entertaining as the marvelous prose helps our imaginations run wild! Exciting, nerve-wracking, and breathlessly thrilling I cannot stress enough how much FUN Reckless was to read!
And our hunky, tormented, treasure hunting extraordinaire (Jacob, if you haven't been following closely) is a fantastic character to follow. He's perfect to headline a series - and there's enough open-ended mysteries and room for more plots in this tricky, magical, captivating world for hopefully many more books to come!
Admit it - you're intrigued...
*I received a review copy of Reckless from Hachette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.