INKSPELL, the second in the INKHEART trilogy, is already fascinating in the first few chapters. Cornelia Funke's THE THIEF LORD is among my very favorites, so I went looking to see what else she has available.
INKSPELL is remarkably set simultaneously in two different worlds. Her debt to CS Lewis is obvious, but she doesn't live their as a burglar. Instead she moves into (what seem to me) completely new realms of imagination. Her first world is ours, more or less modern day Italy. The second world is a land that was created through the writing of a book, but the characters of that book are able to be brought into this world, and the folk of this world sometimes wind up there. It makes for a fascinating (if you enjoy Lewis and Tolkien) intertwining of realms.
Of the many themes that are interlaced throughout, books/words/stories certainly dominates. It is through the oral reading of stories that characters can be brought, and sent, from one realm to the other. Students of the Bible should take special note! Read 2 Kings 22, or the whole book of John which was (I believe) meant to be performed aloud. Throughout the Bible reading and praying aloud is treated as being in a class aside from private silent meditation. Preaching is more volatile than reading. As Hosea says, "Take words." (ch 14:2) In other words, don't go to God silently. (This is not to dis silent prayer, just to say that the Scripture treats it differently than oral, communal prayer.)
Yes, the INKHEART trilogy (as far as I've gotten) lives on the cusp of book worship. But, hey, I live there too! It is an edge to which we come seriously close, and the more we love the Bible the closer we come. In fact that is a charge that the Catholic Bishops leveled against the Reformers many years ago. But the Reformers retorted that they'd rather worship the Bible than the traditions of the Church. (OK, so I paraphrase.) It's an endless and mindless debate.
But books are powerful, and the following quote from INKSPELL shows just one of their many powers.
"Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?" Mo had said when, on Meggie's last birthday, they were looking at all her dear old books again. "As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells . . . and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower . . . both strange and familiar."
How many of us book lovers have experienced that!