Fearless by Cornelia Funke
Chicken House, 2013. ISBN 978-1-906427-26-9.
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Fans of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy and The Thief Lord will enjoy her latest series called Mirrorworld, which combines the natural human world we all know with a fantastical 'faerie' world which mirrors our own but where magical creatures, fairytale figures and legendary objects of folklore also exist. Fearless is the second book in this new series, following the adventures of the intrepid treasure hunter, Jacob Reckless, as he travels in both of these worlds.
In the first book, Reckless, Jacob successfully saved his brother Will from being permanently transformed into a Goyl, a stone being, but at great cost to himself: he said the Dark Fairy's name and now he bears the mark of a moth over his heart, a curse that will end his life soon, unless he can somehow find a cure. However he has already spent months searching in both worlds for that cure and neither the All-Healing Apple, the Well of Eternal Youth nor the blood of a northern Djinn has worked.
Fast running out of hope, Jacob leaves his unsuspecting brother Will with Clara in the human world and journeys back through his father's mirror to tell Fox, the female shapeshifter who is quickly becoming the most important person in what's left of his remaining life. But it is when he finds her, in the castle of the Dwarf Valiant, that Jacob hears of a deadly crossbow, capable of slaying entire army when its bolt is shot through the heart of the army's leader. It is a prize that is worth a fortune, but that is not why Jacob wants it; it was also once used to kill a dying man and so end his torment, but instead it healed him. It may be Jacob's last chance to end his curse.
The land of The Mirrorworld is a detailed and complex, multi-layered world in true Funke style, drawing on the creatures and objects of traditional folktales and reshaping them into a new creation all her own. Those who've read the first book in the series would presumably find this world more familiar, whereas the second book relies on some prior knowledge of the fantasy world and previous events for clarity. However, the characters of Jacob and Fox are engaging and interesting, including their ever-growing closeness and Jacob's ongoing search for his long-lost father.
Fearless is an action-driven Young Adult fantasy novel recommended for adolescent readers and older. As always, Cornelia Funke creates a great tale of adventure, combining suspense and effective character development.
4 stars out of 5.