Jacob Reckless is impulsive, fast, edgy and reckless. He travels between two worlds using a mirror looking for his father who disappeared mysteriously. In the real world he disappears for weeks at a time leaving his brother and mother to fend for themselves. In the alternate world Jacob finds a place where fairy tales come to life with fairies, witches, and Goyls (something of a cross between a gorgon and gargoyle).
Jacob's brother Will follows him into the alternate world and gets infected by a virus from a Goyl which slowly turns him into a jade stone. This color stone is so rare that the King of the Goyls wants Will. The Goyls are at war with humankind. They live underground, are filled with a vicious hatred of humans, and are made of stone. As Will transforms into a Goyl, Jacob fights to save his life.
This story is fast-paced with some romance. Jacob and Will are named after the Grimm's brothers and the plot includes many references to their fairy tales. The plot and characters are similar to those in Inkheart but the tone is darker. The theme of grief and loss is prevalent throughout. Jacob is grieving for his lost father. He seems to have abandoned his mother when she died but Will didn't and he grieves the loss of Jacob being absent when he needed him. Jacob escapes to this alternate world so that he doesn't have to face the reality of his parents dead or missing in the real world. Jacob is frantic when faced with losing Will as he turns into stone. The author's husband died a few years ago and I can't help but wonder if this novel is a way of showing that no matter what she did in the real world she couldn't save her husband and he died, but in the make believe world of fairy tales or stories she could save her husband.
The first few chapters give many names and can be confusing. I wasn't always sure who was speaking. It might help to know that Will and Clara are a couple and Fox has been by Jacob's side helping him for many years. Also, the Goyl are the stone men (in the color of jasper, onyx and moonstone) and are fighting the humans. The King of the Goyls is Kami'en and his faithful servants are the Dark Fairy and Hentzau. The Empress is human and Kami'en is at war with her.
This book sets-up for a sequel and doesn't have much of an ending. I had more questions than answers: Why did the daughter go with the king? Why did the Evil Fairy spare Jacob's life? What did she gain by letting him go? Did turning her into a tree teach her something? It seemed out of character that she wouldn't kill Jacob. All I could figure was that she was interested in Jacob because he loved his brother enough to sacrifice for him and the Evil Fairy is fascinated with human love. Also, what about the unresolved feelings Jacob has for Clara? Fox doesn't really address her feelings for Jacob. Although she seems to recognize she's jealous of Clara. How does Fox fit in this triangle?
Jacob sleeps around with different women but it is not explained except he spent the night with someone. There are violent parts with shootings, monsters attacking, and war.
Reading Level 5.3
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