Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Twelve-year-old Meggie's father is a bookbinder, so she loves books and reading. One night a stranger comes to visit, and warns Meggie's father that someone called Capricorn is after a book he has, and in the morning Meggie's father tells her that they must leave, even though the school holidays are still a week away.
They drive southwards over mountains with the night visitory, whose name turns out to be Dustfinger, and go to stay with Meggie's great-aunt Elinor, another book lover, who agrees to hide the book in her library. But they had not been there for long when Capricorn's thugs came looking for it. The book is called "Inkheart".
Meggie, her father, her aunt, and the unreliable Dustfinger experience many fantastic adventures and encounter many dangers before the story ends, and it appears that the adventures continue in a sequel. It's an interesting story, in which the ordinary everyday world is invaded by fantasy people and creatures from books.
As I often do, I'm adding a few more personal comments that I didn't include in my GoodReads review. They are not spoilers exactly, but will make more sense if you've read the book.
One thing I liked about Inkheart is that it's set in the real world. It's not set entirely in an imaginary realm far away. In that sense it is like the books of Charles Williams or Alan Garner. Most of the fiction books that I have tried to write have been in such a situation, and perhaps that is why I liked this one so much.
But unlike many children's books of this type, Meggie is alone. She is an only child, but not only has she no siblings, but no friends of her own age. At one point in the story she does play briefly with some children who are younger than her, but forms no real relationships with them. Most of her interactions are with adults -- members of her family, or their friends or enemies. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make her interactions with other people somewhat different.