Dustfinger is homesick for his own world. It's not fair. Everyone who had been brought from the other world—the Inkworld—was left behind, while old Fenoglio, the author, was whisked away into the book he wrote. Even Farid, the boy stolen from the pages of Arabian Nights, is stuck in this world, though he doesn't mind so much where he goes as long as he can be with his new mentor, Dustfinger.
But Dustfinger is desperate to get back home, and if Mo, the bookbinder with the voice that opens gateways to other worlds, won't do it then Dustfinger will find someone who can. And when Dustfinger is sent back to the Inkworld, leaving Farid behind, it's only to be expected that Farid is equally desperate to return to Dustfinger. He finds the only other person who is able and willing to help him—Mo's daughter Meggie.
Meggie knows her father is unwilling to attempt that dangerous act of reading people into books again—not after he was just reunited with his wife so many years after he lost her to the Inkworld. But Meggie is enchanted with her mother's descriptions of life in the Inkworld, and she longs to go there herself. She agrees to send Farid back on one condition: she must go with him.
The Inkworld, though it has its charms, is not the wonderful place that Meggie envisions. It bears a lot of similarity to the world of Mimus, in which the medieval setting is not one of romantic black-and-white simplicity, but one that is gritty, dark, and full of fear and terror. The evil characters are really, truly evil, and even the good characters are flawed, foolish, selfish.
This leads to situations that can be dark and disturbing. A character is tortured with a knife, then stabbed to death—in front of two young children. Mo is shot and imprisoned. Meggie and Farid exchange the occasional kiss, and a teenage girl becomes involved with a married Prince. The Inkworld can certainly be a beautiful place—its unique magical creatures, the stubborn and hardy people, the ancient forests and gloomy lakes. But it is also a place full of cruelty and injustice.
When the real world characters enter the Inkworld (Mo, Meggie, Fenoglio) they are understandably appalled, especially Fenoglio, who is shocked at the way his story has taken on a life of its own. He tries and tries to give his story a happy ending, but it continues to resist.
His words fail because they are just the proud words of a proud man. True peace, the book tells us, comes from people willing to die to see it restored, people like Dustfinger and Mo. Inkspell itself may not have a happy ending, but it does have characters who are determined to fight for one.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
Did you find this review helpful?