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Literature / Reckless

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A 2010 young adult novel by Cornelia Funke.

Reckless is essentially about two brothers, a shape-changing fox, and one brother's nurse fiancee. The older brother, Jacob Reckless dropped off the face of the earth after his father died and his mom went...well. Anyway, turns out he's been off in a magical world behind a mirror in his father's old study. His younger brother, Will, winds up following him through, and Will's fiancee, Clara, follows him through. Will gets bitten by a Goyl, a living stone race that have recently begun to spread through bites (thanks to some Dark Magic from their leader's mistress). Now Jacob, Clara, Will, and Jacob's best friend Fox must find a cure before Will becomes a Brainwashed and Crazy statue with Super Strength and a heart of stone( both metaphorical and literal). And then shit happens, like how once Will starts growing Goyl skin, the other Goyl declare him basically their Messiah, and how the humans of the Mirror World have signed a truce with the Goyl, including a wedding between the human princess and the Goyl leader, which his mistress, the Dark Fairy, (who is one scary bitch) isn't very happy with. They also run into Jacob's ex-girlfriend, a fairy with a thing for moths,note  and Evanaugh Valiant, a Jerkass dwarf who knows more about the Mirrorworld than he is entitled to. There is also unlimited Ship Tease, Purple Prose of the best and first order, and enough Darker and Edgier, written Costume Porn, Scenery Porn and Mythology Gags to drown in.


They do find a cure, but Jacob is now cursed himself, and Jacob and Fox must find a cure for him. Within a year.

A sequel, Fearless, was released on September 16, 2012, and Reckless (UK) or Mirrorworld (US) will be a five-part series.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Action Girl: Fox, who holds her own on more than one occasion.
  • After Action Patch Up: Jacob re-bandages Fox's arm in Fearless, and we find out they've often patched each other up over the years.
  • All Myths Are True: Well, All Fairy Tales Are True, if Darker and Edgier. Even Sleeping Beauty shows up!
  • Animorphism: Fox, who prefers her animal form until she sees Jacob kissing Clara.
  • Another Dimension: The Mirrorworld is an alternate version of Europe with 1700's politics...cameras, railroads, and airplanes. The primary mode of travel still appears to be horseback, though, and characters don't recognize modern guns or flashlights. Oh, and there's a whole range of supernatural races...
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  • Anti-Hero: Jacob Reckless, a questionably sympathetic professional treasure hunter satisfied with his grand total of one friend...who gets dragged into the middle of a war because he just wants his brother back.
  • Back from the Dead: Jacob is shot in the chest, actually dies, and is brought back to life by Miranda two pages later.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Jacob with Fox, at least until the second book. And she increasingly doesn't seem to see him that way. Later, neither does he with her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Could also be a Downer Ending depending on which characters you actually sympathized with. Jacob has managed to save his brother, but he's antagonized both the Goyl and the Empire in the process and unwittingly ends up cursed.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Will, who nearly kills his own brother after smashing through a wall while unable to recognize him.
  • Darker and Edgier: With its relentlessly dark tone, heavily implied sex, constant violence, and creatures, this is not your average children's novel.
  • Downer Beginning: By the second chapter, Will is already turning into living stone. What happened in the twelve years since chapter one? You can catch up on that later.
  • Comforting the Widow: Valiant shamelessly states his intention to employ this strategy with Clara.
  • False Protagonist: The novel briefly appears this way, but it's ultimately subverted.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Fox prefers her human skin to her fox fur only after she sees Jacob kissing Clara. "She wanted skin, and lips, so he could kiss them as he had kissed Clara's lips." Proof of her jealousy in that she imagines Clara meeting a variety of terrible fates.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Kami'en and the Goyl versus Empress Therese and the Imperials. The Goyl seem like the logical villains until you find out more about Therese's ruthless tactics. Not to mention, their hatred of humans is a natural response to years of human aggression. Then again, Therese and Austrya aren't entirely unsympathetic either...
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Played with with Jacob and Fox. Even though she's obviously in love with him, he doesn't seem to display much more than a platonic attachment to her. Yet.
  • Humans Are Ugly: Most Goyl are repulsed by the softness of human flesh, even Will, who gradually becomes disgusted by Clara. Kami'en is a rare subversion, the first Goyl to take a human wife. Other inter-breeding is mentioned in passing, though, suggesting that he's not the only one with an attraction to humans.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The original titles seem to be following a One-Word Title [word]-less theme, as seen with Reckless and Fearless.
  • Interspecies Romance: It's all over the place, with occasionally squicky implications. Jacob and Miranda. Kami'en and The Dark Fairy. Kami'en and Amelie. Jacob and Fox just might count as well, depending on how you look at it. Valiant has a thing for human girls...
  • It Doesn't Mean Anything: Jacob more or less says this to Clara. She doesn't quite believe him. Neither does Fox. Come to think of it, he has his own doubts on the matter...
  • Living Aphrodisiac: Played straight with every single one of the Fairies. Jacob ends up "spending the night" with his ex-lover Miranda, even though he's rapidly running out of time to save his brother.
  • Love Potion: Don't drink the Lark's Water.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Jacob, who is twenty-four, and Miranda, an immortal fairy. Probably a similar situation between Kami'en and The Dark Fairy.
  • Meaningful Name: Jacob and John Reckless. Subverted by Will, who doesn't really seem to do anything at all.