(review by Sarah) When it comes to Cornelia Funke, I have no critical faculties. I can't lie; I love what she does. I love her picture books, I love her middle-grade novels, and I love her young adult novels. I marvel at how she writes in German and then really smart, clever people come along and translate her words, and then she reads the translations, which just boggles my mind. I adore how she allows her novels to unfold, sometimes even somewhat slowly, which is the antithesis of so much of what I read in contemporary children's fiction. Cornelia will make you wait, but she will make the wait worthwhile. Our dear Melissa very bravely stormed the crowds at BEA and snagged me a gorgeous hardcover ARC of RECKLESS, which is Cornelia's first novel published by Little, Brown. Although I was dying to read it, I chose to wait until a week arrived where I had ample time to not just read it, but to savor it. Remember Charlie Bucket and the Wonka Bar he got for his birthday, and how he made it last for weeks? Well, I'm not as patient as Charlie, but I swear I made myself dole out the last hundred pages of RECKLESS over several days, which took great self-control on my part. Why did I love it so much? What is RECKLESS all about? Read on, but I may drop a spoiler or four along the way, so consider yourself warned. The setting: modern-day-ish Europe. Doesn't really matter where. We meet Jacob, a young boy exploring his father's study. Everything is covered with dust; his father is long gone. ('Gone' is the operative word here, as his father is missing, not dead.) Jacob examines a curious mirror in the study, and through the mirror, he discovers another world on the opposite side. Funke fans may feel echoes here of the INKHEART books, where the world beyond ours seems all the more real, but just as the Inkworld was a dangerous place, the Mirrorworld holds its own temptations as well as nightmares. We flash forward to years later; Jacob is now a very experienced treasure-hunter in the Mirrorworld (and has the scars to prove it), and his younger brother, Will, seeks to leave the real world to follow Jacob in the fairy-tale-esque land beyond the mirror. Their time together takes a disastrous turn, however, when Will is attacked by a Goyl, a humanoid race made of stone. The vicious blow starts a chain reaction in Will's body; he is slowly turning to stone. Jacob, who has always felt responsible for his younger brother, seeks to find a cure, but in the Mirrorworld, nothing comes easily, and everything has a price. Jacob is immediately likable; he, like his last name suggests, is reckless, and has a bit of an Indiana Jones/Han Solo thing going on. He's smart, charming, worldly-wise, and yet he's tormented by a childhood without a father, and runs away from conflict. Will, on the other hand, stayed in the real world with their mother until her death, and he blames Jacob for leaving them for months at a time with barely a word. Will also is in love with a young woman named Clara, who is swept along by the Reckless brothers into the Mirrorworld, and she displays a remarkable amount of courage on the journey. What's interesting is that Jacob and Will aren't really even teenagers anymore; they're actually young men, and I was really impressed with Cornelia's choice to make her characters a little older than one usually finds in a young adult novel. Their ages suited the dark, strange Mirrorworld, and gave me confidence as the novel went along that Jacob especially had the chops to handle the hurdles he faces. I will say I'm not quite sure what age RECKLESS is for. I believe it's YA at its heart, but that said, I know well-read twelve-year-olds who would read it and love it, and I think I could easily give it to twenty-or-thirty-something friends too. It's grim at times, and did feature a minor villain with knives for hands that scared the crap out of me. RECKLESS takes its fairy tale inspirations very seriously; there are indeed witches who eat children, there are spells that will turn you into a tree for hundreds of years, and the unicorns will gore you if you get too close. Beyond that, there's an entire political struggle (i.e. war) going on between the humans of the Mirrorworld and the Goyl, which culminates in a climactic battle scene for the throne, and even Jacob's connection to a powerful Fairy may not be enough to save his brother. Will's situation, that of slowly turning into a Goyl, is painful to watch, as he slowly loses his memories of those he loves, as his heart is gradually turning to stone (jade, in his case). I was entirely invested in Jacob's journey, and Funke's gift for writing supporting cast (particularly Fox, who really intrigued me with her motivations) really shone in RECKLESS. Here's my bottom line: nobody writes like Cornelia Funke, as far as I'm concerned. I love her voice because it doesn't sound like anyone else. She has a remarkable gift for description, and I love how she uses iconic imagery to give insight into her characters (the black moths for the Dark Fairy, the Bluejay for Meggie's father, etc). I love how she makes me fall head over heels with her stories every time, and even though I never know what she's going to do, I trust her implicitly. I have been assured by our Little, Brown rep that a sequel is indeed in the works, and for that I'm very grateful, because I'm not ready to let go of the Reckless brothers anytime soon. Note from Melissa: I was hoping Sarah would review this, because I consider her a Cornelia Funke expert in addition to being a super fangirl. I didn't love the INKHEART series, but I love her picture books and THE THIEF LORD and I really, really loved RECKLESS a lot. As an indie bookseller I am very concerned about the price point - it's $19.99, and I can't afford to discount it 33% like the online retailer who would like to put everyone out of business can. $19.99 is a lot to ask a parent to shell out for a novel their kid will likely read in one day (the kind of kid who will read this is the kind of kid who plows through books like a freight train, no matter their length or complexity). Kids' books seem to be increasingly creeping toward this price, and I think it's a big mistake. I also didn't understand Little, Brown's decision to make this ARC a limited edition bound hardcover. Every single shop was going to carry this book anyway, and it was already going to be a bestseller. It's Cornelia Funke. I wish if they were going to spend this kind of money they'd spend it on debut authors who get overlooked.