Movie Reviews

This 2003 Children's Fantasy Book Deserves More Love (Despite Its Failed Movie Adaptation)


  • Inkheart was a beloved children’s fantasy book of the 2000s, but it has sadly faded out of the spotlight over time.
  • Despite winning awards and being in the top 100 for children’s literature, Inkheart is now largely unrecognized by modern young readers.
  • The movie adaptation of Inkheart, released in 2009, did not live up to the source material, leaving fans frustrated with lost magic.

The 2003 fantasy book Inkheart was a breathtaking piece of children’s literature, and though it was recognized with a movie adaptation, it no longer gets the attention it deserves. Young adult and children’s fantasy has always had the potential to leave its mark on popular culture, with series like The Chronicles of Narnia remaining wildly popular and celebrated for the better part of a century. However, there have been books and series over the years that have deserved every bit as much recognition, but they have sadly fallen out of prevalence.

Children’s fantasy books like Harry Potter, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit, James and the Giant Peach, The Wizard of Oz, and many more have solidified themselves as familiar staples of the genre. They are frequently promoted by school teachers, often even being part of the curriculum. Author Cornelia Funke is among those who have contributed to these timeless classics. Her 2003 novel Inkheart, which was followed by two sequels, Inkspell (2005) and Inkdeath (2007), was in the top 100 for children’s literature for a time. Unfortunately, these stories go largely unrecognized today.


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Inkheart Deserves Way More Love Today, Over 20 Years After Its Release

Inkheart by Corlnelia Funke

While the buzz surrounding Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia remains strong decades later, little is ever said about Funke’s Inkheart. This is a shame since the beautifully constructed trilogy still deserves love after all these years. Inkheart and its sequels won various awards and were dubbed the “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children” by the National Education Association in 2007. In the early 2000s, Inkheart was being promoted just about everywhere. However, despite these accolades, far fewer modern young readers would recognize Inkheart in the same way they would other popular children’s fantasy book series.

Despite these accolades, far fewer modern young readers would recognize
in the same way they would other popular children’s fantasy book series.

Why Cornelia Funke’s Book Was A Standout Children’s Fantasy

Inkheart Is Why Many 2000s Kids Fell In Love With Reading

The book covers for Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath side by side

Inkheart doesn’t just deserve more love today because of its popularity in the 2000s. Funke’s book series indeed contributed something special to the children’s fantasy genre, and there hasn’t been anything like it since. The story follows a young girl, Meggie, who discovers that she and her father share a gift that brings the characters of storybooks to life when they read aloud. While this is a variation of a fairly standard fantasy trope, the surrounding story was constructed in a way that felt like a love letter from Funke to books in general.

Meggie’s story is steeped in an exceedingly apparent love for literature. The way that Funke describes the act of reading is how a chef would describe savoring their favorite meal. There are easter eggs to various popular literary works and odes to the art of bookbinding and illustration spattered throughout. All of this is paired with a lovely story that captures the lighthearted whimsy and delicious darkness that is often so important to classic high fantasy. The Inkheart series is all about a profound passion for fantasy literature, and this really should have allowed the trilogy to remain in the limelight.

Cornelia Funke added another book to the
The Color of Revenge,
which is expected to be published in English sometime in 2024.

Inkheart’s Movie Adaptation Didn’t Do The Source Material Justice

The Inkheart Movie Had So Much Potential, But It’s Failure Left A Frustrating Mark

Like many popular fantasy book series of the early 2000s, the rights for an Inkheart film adaptation were bought by New Line Cinema, and this resulted in a movie that was released in 2009. The fantasy film was certainly something for Inkheart fans to be excited about, with a phenomenal cast that included Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis, and more. With such astounding talent, the Inkheart movie should have been a shoo-in. Unfortunately, the film failed to live up to the source material.

Movie adaptations seem to play a significant role in a children’s book series’ longevity in popular culture.

The events of Inkspell and Inkdeath were dropped entirely, and Inkheart was adapted as a stand-alone film that wrapped up the story in the end. This meant a great deal of the magic Funke sewed throughout her story was left on the cutting room floor. This lost flavor had an impact on the Inkheart movie’s performance, which is especially unfortunate since movie adaptations seem to play a significant role in a children’s book series’ longevity in popular culture. Perhaps one day, Inkheart will regain the attention it deserves, perhaps with a new movie or TV show that can finally do Funke’s fantasy book justice.

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