Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Cornelia Funke
Fiction  Series
For ages 14 and up
Little Brown, 2010   ISBN: 978-0316098489

When Jacob was eleven his father disappeared and no one had any idea where he had gone. Often Jacob went into his father’s office at night to look for some clue, something that would help him to understand what had happened to his father. When was twelve he was in the office one night when he found a piece of paper with the words, “The mirror will open only for he who cannot see himself” written on it. Jacob examined the mirror on the wall, and when he understood the meaning in the phrase he covered his reflected face in the mirror so that he could no longer see himself. The next minute he was transported  through the mirror to another world, a world where witches, fairies, unicorns and many other creatures, both fair and terrible, lived. He had found Mirrorworld.

   Over the years Jacob has gone back to Mirrorworld again and again, but he has never told Will, his younger brother, about his discovery. Jacob’s stays in Mirrorworld have got longer and longer as he has got older, and in truth he has come to prefer the magical world to the one he belongs to. Though Mirrorworld is a dangerous place, and though Jacob has almost died there many times, he loves hunting for artifacts in the strange land, which he then sells to the Empress, or to anyone who can pay his asking price. Jacob paid little attention to his grieving mother and lonely brother whom he left behind. He did not even spend time with Will after their mother died.

   Then one day Will discovers the mirror. He enters Mirrorworld and is not there long before he is injured by a Goyl, a being made of stone. It used to be that a Goyl could only be born of a Goyl mother, but now, thanks to the magic of the Dark Fairy, a human who is injured when a Goyl scratches him or her starts to turn into a Goyl. Will’s skin is slowly turning to stone and Jacob knows that he does not have much time before his brother will be a Goyl, a creature that feeds on rage, a creature that will forget that it was once human. Will’s girlfriend, Clara, is in Mirrorworld too and she refuses to leave her lover’s side, even after she is told that Mirrorworld is a dangerous place for humans who do not understand the creatures that live there.

   Goyls used to live underground and for centuries they were persecuted by humans, but now they have a king who has unified them, who has led them above ground. The king, Kami’en, has fallen in love with the Dark Fairy who swelled his armies by giving the Goyl the ability in infect humans. The Fairy believes that a Jade Goyl will appear who will stand by her lover’s side and make him stronger than ever. She is determined to find this special Goyl and sends her spies out into the world to find him. What she does not know is that the Jade Goyl she is seeking is a human called Will who is turning into a Goyl; he is a human whose brother will fight to the death to save him.

   Wracked by guilt because his carelessness led to Will being injured by a Goyl, Jacob sets about trying to find out how to reverse the curse that has been placed on his brother. Accompanied by his friend Fox (a shapeshifting girl who prefers to live as a fox), Will and Clara, Jacob dares to go to places that most humans avoid at all costs. He will go anywhere if there is a chance that he will find a cure. He never imagines that he and his companions will become pawns in a battle for power that could well cost them all their lives.

   When we first meet Jacob he is a cocky young man who has always managed to survive, to get what he wants even when the price has been very high indeed. When his brother is afflicted Jaacob suddenly is no longer in control, and it is fascinating to observe his personal struggles as he tries to fight back against the stone that is stealing his brother away. He learns to his cost that he does not always have the answers, and that is foolish to trust fairies. They cannot be trusted. Ever.

   Readers, both teens and adults, are going to be captivated by this rich and often dark story. Magic is woven into the words, and readers who are sensitive to spells and trickery are advised to be wary as they turn the pages.