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5 Books like Inkheart: Living, Breathing Stories

Jane Howarth itcherYou don’t need any special powers to make books like ‘Inkheart’, ‘Ruby Red’ and ‘The Owl Service’ come alive before your eyes. ~ Jane Howarth

Spinning a Magic Spell Around Her Heart, Sticky as a Spider’s Web and Enchantingly Beautiful…

It’s not easy to finish a book like ‘Inkheart’. Cornelia Funke’s magical, imagination‐driven world is enough to make you reluctant to come back to plain old reality.

Some stories literally bring a story to life, plunging their characters into a fantasy world, but each of these books spin a magical spell. Join me as we discover other books that bring every little detail to life.

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Books Similar to ‘Inkheart’…

‘Winterling’ (Sarah Prineas, 2012)

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Fer tore herself from the thorns and scrambled to her feet. On the other side of the shimmering pool, wolves, their grey fur silvered by the moonlight, circled…

Fer’s life actually falls into place when she finds out about her strange inheritance. And so begins a journey through an enchanted pool into another world ‐ think ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ (C. S. Lewis, 1955).

Like ‘Inkheart’, ‘Winterling’ bounces from spellbinding moments to frantic chases ‐ and if you want a book that’ll come alive in your hands (no powers required), this is the one.

So, settle in for a magical read!

Similarity Match: 85%
You’ll feel the frost in the air and see the surroundings before your eyes as we follow another magically gifted heroine ‐ like ‘Inkheart’, this book is wonderfully descriptive.

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‘Ruby Red’ (Kerstin Gier, 2009)

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The Speaker was a small gargoyle couching in the pew right next to the confessional, as surprised to see me as I was to see him.

Like Meggie’s family, Gwyneth’s possesses a secret inheritance. Instead of bringing fiction to life, they can travel through time. German author Kerstin Gier sets the action in London. With plenty of locations to pinpoint the action throughout the ages (National Portrait Gallery and Hyde Park, for starters) it’s perfect for a bit of time travelling, no?

We follow Gwyneth and Gideon, her time travelling friend, through history and her own family’s past as they try to work out why she ‐ and not the cousin who spend her life preparing ‐ inherited the ability.

Similarity Match: 80%
Another book like ‘Inkheart’ that started life in Germany, ‘Ruby Red’ brings history to life instead of stories ‐ and it’s full to the brim with enchantment.

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‘The Watcher in the Shadows’ (Carlos Ruiz Zafón, 2005)

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Sometimes I think that everyone has disappeared to some other place, far away from Blue Bay, and only I have remained here, trapped in time…

Irene’s family move into an old Normandy house which echoes with enough mysteries of its own, in a village that holds its own curiosities. At first just a creepy atmosphere, the sense of foreboding takes a darker turn.

And thanks to Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s love of description, you’ll find yourself seeing and sensing every bit of that atmosphere.

‘The Shadow of the Wind’ (2001) has a deep‐running book theme, but for me it’s the third instalment of the series that resonates with ‘Inkheart’. Each volume works completely independently, so jump right into ‘The Watcher in the Shadows’.

Similarity Match: 80%
Maybe it’s the girl at the heart of both, the workshops, the strange houses… this mystery is heavier on the supernatural stuff though.

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‘The Owl Service’ (Alan Garner, 1967)

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The water was glittery… but I could tell it was me ‐ my colour of hair, and face, and ‐ well, it just was.

Author Alan Garner’s books are known for their mythological and folklore influences, probably thanks to his career as a classics scholar and understanding of Middle English. Recommended by the Books Trust for over‐twelves, this Carnegie Medal winner is about a dark Welsh legend brought to life.

An English girl living in Wales hear noises coming from the attic, and enlists her friend, Gwyn, to help her find out what’s going on. They take a good look round, but their only find is a set of ornate, if grimy, plates. As they’ll soon discover, this typically attic‐worthy discovery has actually triggered something much bigger.

Similarity Match: 75%
Just as ‘Inkheart’ conjures up Italy alongside its living book‐within‐a‐book, you’ll feel the Welsh scenery come alive as the legend does for Alison. The writing has its traditional moments but it’s totally suitable for modern readers.

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If You Like ‘Inkheart’, You Will Like…

‘Inkheart’ brings the book world into the real one, but let’s not write off series like ‘The Land of Elyon’ that sit firmly in the realms of fantasy.

It feels similar to Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’ series in some places, ‘Narnia’ and ‘Inkheart’ in others ‐ but without a 20th or 21st Century real world connection to ground it.

‘The Dark Hills Divide’ (Patrick Carman, 2005)

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I spent my youth building this wall to keep dangerous things away. I sometimes wonder now if I’ve kept them inside.

At the age of twelve, Alexa is set the task of discovering what lies beyond the walled city’s defences and, it soon emerges, staving off the kingdom’s destruction from within. Venturing outside the limits, she’s plunged into a world of strange creatures and magical powers.

Alexa and Meggie each inherit a weighty responsibility ‐ but ‘The Dark Hills Divide’ sends her (and us) deeper into fantasy territory.

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Books Have to Be Heavy Because the Whole World’s Inside Them

Looking for more of those weighty but addictive worlds? I’ve looked out more mythological books for YA readers, including ‘Runemarks’ (Joanne Harris, 2008), about a girl who steps into Norse mythology.

And I think you’ll love ‘The Snow Spider’ (Jenny Nimmo, 1987) and ‘The Never Ending Story’ (Michael Ende, 1987) ‐ but I’ll hand you over to Jo for these and other books like ‘Eragon’ (Christopher Paolini, 2001).

Go on, invite other ‘Inkheart’ fans into your favourite realms ‐ which books do you recommend?

Hi, I’m Jane, BA (Drama, Film and TV) and MA (Cultural and Creative Industries). When I’m not writing about creative things, I’m designing or planning them. If you’re brave enough to risk an avalanche, look behind the stacks of books and DVDs and you’ll find me balancing a cup of tea, a handful of knitting and a cupcake.
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