Book Review: The Golden Yarn by Cornelia Funke
Goodreads Description: 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.
My Review: I was given an advanced reader's copy of The Golden Yarn from Goldberg McDuffie Communications and the author, Cornelia Funke, but my opinions are entirely my own.
The Golden Yarn is the third installment of the Mirrorworld series, a deep fantasy tale of love, treasure hunters, and magic. As I've done with previous reviews, I went into the book blind, hoping that the strength of the story would keep me from being out of the loop. Immediately, the story lunges into the action with the birth of the skinless prince to Kami'en, King of the Goyle, and the dollface human, Amalie. I was instantly enamored with the lyrical writing and a world that was both familiar and brand new. Funke's world beyond the mirror is based on many fairy tales, and despite the depth of the story, as well as the amount of characters in play, Funke's control of pacing kept the story moving. At no point did I feel bogged down by excess explanations. Instead, the narrative only lingered on past events or worldbuilding long enough to give the reader a taste for it. And it only made me hungry for more.
Though I have a general idea of what transpired in the previous two books, I still could not tell you how the story played out. At times when I read a sequel without reading the previous book, I no longer have to. The story is so thoroughly explained in the sequel, or the events are so linear that I would feel bored just reiterating what I already know. This wasn't the case at all with The Golden Yarn. I'm clamoring for the first two books, not only because I want to know more than just the little tastes I've been given, but because I know the first two are bound to be as complex as this one. Though some might be disoriented by shifting characters and titles used more often than names, I found the many characters and their layered inner conflicts so delightful. I loved seeing how these characters all intersected and then went their own ways. As well, each character had rich inner conflicts that influenced their actions. The Dark Fairy, of course, being the most obvious, especially after she sought to end the love she felt for Kami'en. I especially enjoyed Will's conflicts as well, how he was the "canvas others painted on," and how he came to deal with that.
I will say that Will's sort of "betrayal" of Clara by the end of the book (at least how I saw it) felt a little off, especially since his entire motivation for going to the Mirrorworld is to save her. And because of the high fantasy and so many shifting POVs and varying storylines, the tension can seem to lag a bit and it can be easy to be pulled out of it, at least in my opinion.
The ending worked everything together well, which I was primarily concerned with, as it can be hard to create so many "beginnings" and "endings" in the course of a series, but everything tied together in a way that felt like closure with the room for more story to be explored. There was only one plot thread, the subplot of the skinless prince, that didn't get properly resolved. I realize that it will no doubt be carried on in the next book, but it would have made such a more satisfying read if that one last plot thread could be tied back into the central story with its own little sense of "closure."
All in all, I really adored this book. I was really happy to get the chance to read it and I can't wait to look into the others in the series. If you love high fantasy, or want to love high fantasy but have a hard time with heavy writing, pick up the story of Jacob Reckless, and I assure you, you won't be disappointed.
TL;DR: 4/5 stars. A lyrically written fantasy that tugs at the golden heartstrings.