Inkheart (German title: Tintenherz) is a 2003 young adult fantasy novel by Cornelia Funke, and the first book of the Inkheart trilogy. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association listed the book as one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children".[1]

Inkheart book.jpg
First English translation edition cover
AuthorCornelia Funke
Original titleTintenherz
IllustratorCornelia Funke
Cover artistCarol Lawson & Ian Butterworth
LanguageGerman (original language)/ English
SeriesInkheart trilogy
GenreFantasy, Bildungsroman, Mystery
PublisherGermany Cecilie Dressler
UK Chicken House
United States Scholastic
Publication date
September 23, 2003
Published in English
June 6, 2005
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages534 pages
ISBN1-904442-09-9 (1st English translation)
Followed byInkspell 


12-year-old Meggie sees a stranger staring at her outside her window and tells her father, Mortimer (or Mo, as Meggie calls him) about it. Her father invites the stranger in, who introduces himself as Dustfinger. Mo and Dustfinger seem to know each other, with the latter referring to the former as 'Silvertongue'. Mo and Dustfinger go to Mo's workshop, where Mo works as a bookbinder. Meggie eavesdrops and hears them talking about unfamiliar people and places. Dustfinger warns Mo that a man named Capricorn is looking for him. The next morning, Mo unexpectedly announces that he and Meggie have to go to Meggie's Aunt Elinor's house where Mo has to fix some books. They find Dustfinger on the road, who joins them on the way to Elinor's house. When they arrive, Elinor seems displeased but lets them in. Her house, like Mo and Meggie's, is full of books. Mo sets off to work, and Meggie talks to Dustfinger, where she is introduced to Gwin, Dustfinger's pet marten with horns on top of his head. One day, he puts on a show for her at night, claiming to be an entertainer and a fire-eater. A short while after, Mo is captured by people with unusual names, bringing along with him a book, Inkheart, that the previously mentioned Capricorn is desperate to get his hands on. Meggie and Elinor tell the police, but the police just think they are out of their minds.

A while later, they realize that Dustfinger has left, only to return a short while later. During the period in which Dustfinger is not there, Meggie packs her bag and begins to leave Elinor's to find her father, only to be caught by Elinor. Dustfinger returns and the three plan to venture to Capricorn's village where her father was being held. At arrival, they meet a guard named Basta, who seems to recognize Dustfinger. The three are taken to Capricorn's house where he waits for them. Meggie pulls out the real Inkheart book, which was only there because Elinor had switched Inkheart with another book, making Mo take the wrong book when captured. Elinor and Meggie are thrown into the cell where Mo is being held and they reunite. After this Meggie makes Mo tells the story of why they were there.

A long time ago, when Meggie was three, her father was reading Inkheart to Meggie's mother, Teresa. Mo found out that he had a special gift where he could bring things out of books just by reading aloud, but that came with a price, for everything that comes out of the book, something must go in. So, while reading the seventh chapter, three of the main characters from the book, Capricorn, Basta, and Dustfinger, come out of the book and into their house. Capricorn tries to fight Mo, but eventually Mo forces them out of his house. When he turns back, Teresa and their two cats that were sitting on her lap were gone and Meggie was crying. He later tried many more times to get his wife out of the book, but his power failed him.

In the morning, Capricorn brings the three (for now Dustfinger has been long gone) into a satanic church painted red with an enormous statue of Capricorn there. He makes Mo read treasure out of Treasure Island. When Mo starts to read Tales from A Thousand and One Nights, a boy appears out of the book, whom we later learn is named Farid. The prisoners are brought back to their cells along with Farid who has been put in the cell next to theirs. That night, Dustfinger breaks out all of the prisoners and they run to Elinor's car, where Basta and another guard named Flatnose chase after them. After a while, their car breaks down and they have to travel through the woods. They arrive at an abandoned village where they stay for a bit until they hear the guards coming with dogs to come and catch the group. The dogs smell the marten, because martens stink, which happens to be right above where Mo is hiding. The dogs start biting and attacking Mo. Dustfinger sets them free and the group ties up the guards and puts them in an abandoned house where they had camped out for a bit.

They find a city where they can stay in a hotel for a bit while Elinor uses her secret credit card to buy them all new clothes and food. Farid becomes Dustfinger's apprentice and starts to learn the art of Dustfinger's fire. Elinor leaves in a rental car and Farid and Dustfinger stay for a bit longer until Meggie and Mo leave. Dustfinger, Farid, Meggie, and Mo go to Fenoglio's house in a small village close to the city. Fenoglio is the author of Inkheart who may be able to give them another copy of Inkheart since Capricorn had burned all the copies except for one that he kept. They are disappointed when they learn Fenoglio does not have another copy, but since they asked him he wondered about their story, which they had to tell him. He was interested to learn that his characters came to life and wanted to meet Dustfinger, but Dustfinger ran away with Farid trailing behind.

Fenoglio offers them an apartment so that they can live there for the time being when Mo fixes Fenoglio's books. Mo, on an urgent call, leaves for the airport leaving Meggie with Fenoglio and his three grandchildren.

When Elinor returns home, she finds that all her books had been pulled off of the shelves and trampled on and in her library full of her most valuable books, she finds all of them were gone, except for a dead rooster hanging from the ceiling as a mark of Capricorn and his men. When she looks outside, she sees a gigantic pile of ashes and realizes that her valuable books had been burned.

After a while, Basta and Flatnose find Fenoglio and Meggie, taking them away to see Capricorn. When seeing Capricorn, Fenoglio reveals Capricorn's past. Though everyone knew the story that his father was a knight and his mother a princess, it happens to be that his father was a blacksmith and his mother, Mortola, or the Magpie, was just the head maidservant. Capricorn takes them away to a cell in the attic of his house, where Meggie discovers that she also has her father's power, after bringing Tinker Bell out of Peter Pan.

Farid and Dustfinger sneak into the village where Dustfinger meets one of his old maidservant friends, Resa, who Farid thinks Dustfinger fancies. Resa is a mute who taught Dustfinger how to read and write who came out of the Inkheart story a while back after the unfortunate Darius, a man with the same talent as Mo and Meggie, but his fear of Capricorn mixes up things in the book and makes them turn out weirdly. Resa and Dustfinger conspire a plan to get Inkheart from Capricorn, which had to be stopped short because of the guards coming. Dustfinger and Farid run back to the woods and stay there for a while.

Given a test by the Magpie, Meggie brings out the tin soldier from the Hans Christian Andersen stories, which the Magpie lets her have along with some paper and a pen. Fenoglio writes a happy story for the tin soldier and puts him back into his book, in which Fenoglio then starts writing a counter curse for when Meggie has to read out a horrible villain called the Shadow. Gwin passes notes back and forth between Mo and Meggie, which are written in Elvish, to let them know what was happening.

Elinor and Mo arrive at the village from the airport and talk to Farid after Dustfinger had gotten kidnapped and sent to the crypt by trying to recover the Inkheart book. They plan to try and stop the reading from happening, and Farid and Mo put on guard uniforms to blend in. In the night, shots are fired, and only Farid is injured by a whizzing bullet by getting a small cut on his head. Elinor then gets caught by trying to find Farid and Mo after not returning and is put in the crypt with Resa, who had been caught trying to steal the book.

Meggie is forced to put on a white dress for the reading and has the counter curse for the Shadow in her sleeve, just as planned. She also asks to see Dustfinger and finds her mom, Resa. Farid and Mo set Capricorn's house on fire as well as a close-by field. During which everyone is paying attention to the fire, she switches out the planned reading for Fenoglio's handwritten story. She creates the Shadow and turns it against its master; unable to read the murderous passage, Mo reads the beginning of last paragraph, killing Capricorn.

Meggie then finishes the tale and turns Shadow turns back into the fairies, glass men, and trolls whose ashes it was created from. Many of the magical creatures come home with Elinor. Meggie, Mo, Resa, and Darius, whom Elinor finds useful due to his book knowledge and reading ability, go and live in Elinor's large house. Gwin, Dustfinger, and Farid leave in the night after Dustfinger steals the last remaining copy of Inkheart from Mo.


Meggie: A 12-year-old, avid reader, and the daughter of Mortimer "Silvertongue" Folchart, ambitious and troublesome. She also has the ability to read things out of books like her father. She inherits her love for books from her father. She has blonde hair and blue eyes.

Mo (Mortimer/Silvertongue): Father of Meggie. He has the ability to read characters out of stories, just like his daughter. He is the husband to Resa who got read into the book Inkheart when Mo accidentally read Capricorn and Basta out along with Dustfinger.

Dustfinger: A character from a book called Inkheart. Dustfinger was read out of the book by Mortimer. Dustfinger is a skilled performer who uses fire, otherwise known as a fire-eater. He has a horned marten called Gwin as his companion. He is described as having three faint scars on his face from being cut by Basta and having sandy-colored hair. Throughout Inkheart, he searches only for the book, which is the only way back to his world. Although he betrayed Mortimer and sold him out to Capricorn, he only did so because Capricorn had promised that he would be sent back home. He protects Meggie on a few occasions, and is not truly evil. He does not fit into the world he was read into, and cares only for returning home to his family, which is the reason for many of his seemingly cruel deeds.He is known for being very stealthy and skilled at remaining unseen. He has a calm and collected expression at attitude at almost all times.

Capricorn: Another character from Inkheart, he was also read out of the book by Mortimer. He is a mob boss. Capricorn is a very tall, gaunt man, pale as parchment, with short bristly hair, and very pale bright eyes. He is the main antagonist in the first book. He only cares about himself, and does not want to go back to his own world and time. When he was a child, he was cruelly beaten if he cried or showed any types of pity towards someone, which produced his evil characteristics.

Gwin: Dustfinger's horned pet marten who lives in Dustfinger's backpack. He is not trained so he usually bites Dustfinger.

Elinor: Aunt of Mo's wife who disappeared. Elinor is a recluse who is proud of her collection of books. At first, she is somewhat rude to Meggie, fearing that Meggie will ruin her books, but warms up to her when she realizes that Meggie loves books just as much as she does.

Basta: Character from the book Inkheart. He has a thin angular face with close set eyes, not tall with narrow shoulders. There is a note of fury about him, and he is extremely superstitious. Unlike other of Capricorn's men who wear all black, Basta wears a white shirt. Basta is very fond of the knife he carries.

Flatnose: One of Capricorn's henchmen, who was read out of Inkheart by Darius. He is described as a tall, broad man whose face appears as if a giant had pushed in his face with a thumb.

Darius: A nervous, small, thin man no older than Mortimer. Darius is described as having a badly bent back and wearing glasses. Capricorn had discovered that he can also read characters out of books, but does this poorly, with the characters having various deformities, due to his stuttering.

Farid: A young boy read out from the book "Tales from the Thousand and One Nights". Farid becomes a companion of Dustfinger. Becomes very skilled at "playing with fire". He also develops a soft-spot for Meggie.

Fenoglio: The author of Inkheart. He has three grandchildren, Ricco, Paula, and Pippo.

Mortola (the Magpie): Read out of Inkheart by Darius. She has a vulture-like face. Her eyes are set close together and her jaw juts forward. Her legs are swelled, and wrapped in bandages. She is very cruel, as Basta claims "Compared to her my heart is as soft as a child's cuddly thing".

The Shadow: In Inkheart only appears when Capricorn calls it, leaping from the ground like fire. The Shadow is made from the ashes of all of the creatures that Capricorn burned. The concept of The Shadow is similar to that of the Nothing in Michael Ende's The Neverending Story.

Teresa (Resa): Wife of Mortimer, mother of Meggie, and niece of Elinor. She disappeared into the book when Mortimer first read Dustfinger, Basta, and Capricorn out of it. Later it is discovered she had lost her voice.[2]


The sequel Inkspell was released on October 1, 2005.[3] The third book in the trilogy, Inkdeath, was released on September 28, 2007.[4]

Film adaptationEdit

A movie based on the book was released theatrically on December 12, 2008, in the UK and January 23, 2009, in the USA. Eliza Bennett and Brendan Fraser were the first to be cast, as Meggie and Mo, respectively. The rest of the cast included Paul Bettany as Dustfinger, Rafi Gavron as Farid, Jim Broadbent as Fenoglio, Helen Mirren as Elinor, Andy Serkis as Capricorn, Sienna Guillory as Teresa, and Jamie Foreman as Basta. Iain Softley directed the film.[5]

Critical receptionEdit

Kirkus Reviews declared it "a true feast for anyone who has ever been lost in a book".[6] Writing in the Guardian, Diana Wynne Jones stated "I don't think I've ever read anything that conveys so well the joys, terrors and pitfalls of reading".[7]


  1. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  2. ^ "Inkheart: Step Into Character -".
  3. ^ "Inkspell (Inkworld, #2)".
  4. ^ "Inkdeath (Inkworld, #3)".
  5. ^ "Inkheart". 23 January 2009 – via
  6. ^ Funke, Cornelia. "INKHEART". KIRKUS. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  7. ^ Diana Wynne Jones. "Review: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke | Books". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-23.

External linksEdit