Thursday, November 9, 2023

Cornelia Funke's MIRRORWORLD series, book 3 THE GOLDEN YARN, of 5-book illustrated YA Dark Fantasies

RECKLESS: The Golden Yarn (MirrorWorld #3)
(tr. Oliver Latsch)
Pushkin Children's Books
$9.99 ebook editions, avalable now

Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Jacob Reckless continues to travel the portal in his father's abandoned study. His name has continued to be famous on the other side of the mirror, as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. His family and friends, from his brother, Will to the shape-shifting vixen, Fox, are on a collision course as the two worlds become connected. Who is driving these two worlds together and why is he always a step ahead?

This new force isn’t limiting its influence to just Jacob’s efforts – it has broadened the horizon within MirrorWorld. Jacob, Will and Fox travel east and into the Russian folklore, to the land of the Baba Yaga, pursued by a new type of being that knows our world all to well.

First book reviewed hereSecond book reviewed here
Third book reviewed hereFourth book reviewed here


My Review
: Jacob Reckless, our series protagonist, comes face-to-face with the hardest of adult problems in this entry into the ongoing series of fantasy Young Adult novels: "Why were love and death such close neighbours."

It's always bothered me that love poetry and love songs so frequently conflate love and death. This story, in which Jacob meets his vanished father after more than a decade of aging and growing and becoming his the man who can be a father as well as his brother Will's savior, very much focuses on this seeming dichotomy. Jacob must do what a lot of sonse must do: Come at last to understand the nature of love for a parent when the parent isn't who one wished them to be. Love and death...always sides of a coin, sometimes without much thickness between them so one side's pattern shows on the other side.

How much love costs is another thing Jacob must face in this book. He travels to a farther eastern part of Mirrorworld where we meet Slavic folklorians like rusalkas and, of course, Baba Yaga. Can not pass up a chance to call out the world-building that Funke treats us to in this series...we've had fae and (gar)goyls and sorcerous beings galore, now we get flying carpets and golems! There is so much lovely writing in the translation that evokes the differences in all the peoples of Mirrorworld that it's worth the price of admission just to be brought on Jacob's journey. Notably, as this is marketed as a young adult title, the publisher's treated us again to some lovely, evocative illustrations; again, worth the price of admission to get them before your admiring eyes.

More than all the fantasy novels aimed at adults that I've read, this series (to date) has done the most to convince me that there is a glorious amount of Story that's best told by means of fantasy tropes. There's nothing important that I don't care for in this German translation (misspellings à la anglais irk me, but not enough to knock points off for...especially from a British publishing house).

Why I'm only at four and a half stars not the full five is simply that the adversary in this tale pops up and has no reason to that I could follow. It's not awful; it's just that we've got such a fabulous set-up for this title in this quote: "The Golden Yarn...or the inseverable bond, as it is also called. As inseverable as the threads of fate," which gets vitiated by the up-popping adversary. "The threads of fate" are unquestionably the most relevant organizing pinciples here. Then, Author Funke, ensnare *everyone* in them from the get-go.

Really, there's nothing more to this than my nagging sense of "fair play" brought over from the series-mystery reading world. What works works so well that I want to be fair about your possible complaints. In dealing with Jacob's latest foray into Mirrorworld and confronting deeply ugly realities of his father, and brother, having flaws, Author Funke never once drops the thread that binds families of all sorts together.

Minor whinges be damned. The series works, and keeps working.

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