The Dark Fairy, a Magic Carpet, and Forbidden Lovebirds: Cornelia Funke’s The Golden Yarn

The Dark Fairy, a Magic Carpet, and Forbidden Lovebirds: Cornelia Funke’s The Golden Yarn

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In The Golden Yarn, the final (?) volume of the Reckless trilogy by Cornelia Funke, the unthinkable happens. Not in the way you would suppose, of course. After returning to the real world in search of a precious item, Jacob is accosted by Clara, his brother’s girlfriend. More’s the pity when she reveals her true identity; she’s actually an Alderelf who sees to Jacob’s incapacitation and traps the actual Clara in a sleep from which she can never awaken.

A devious Alderelf named Spieler has sent his young apprentice, along with her brother, to do his bidding. Having disguised himself as Jacob’s father, he knows Jacob and his brother, Will, all too well. He desires Jacob’s firstborn child. (Remind you of anyone?) That prevents Jacob and Fox, his beloved companion, from acting on their unbearable feelings for one another. Then there’s Will, who embarks on a quest to find the Dark Fairy, who cursed him all the way back in Book One. Of course, Jacob follows him on what ends up being the most devastating journey yet.

This volume takes the cake for being the saddest. So much sorrow befalls Funke’s tireless crew that it’s important to savor the happy moments. We begin with Clara falling into the familiar slumber of Sleeping Beauty. It breaks my heart that her prince doesn’t kiss her awake, like Philip with Aurora. An ending that made it possible for Will to return to the real world after encountering the Dark Fairy and kissing Clara back to life could have been written. But alas, as you shall see, the novel ended with an ambiguousness that annoyed me as opposed to filling me with wonder.

On the subject of unsatisfactory endings, we also have to suffer through the reunion of Jacob and his father. Having disguised himself as the brilliant inventor Isambard Brunel, John Reckless convinces himself his son will fail to recognize him. Surprisingly, it is he who reveals his true identity to his son. That he willingly breaks through his facade in order to reconnect with his son proves his intention to take the first brave step towards mending their bond. Neither man is willing to show their love for one another, however. (Pride is a contender for the worst of the Deadly Sins).

Their similarities as father and son broke my heart. John’s revelation, that this time he can choose to stay rather than run away, gutted me with its profound simplicity. That makes it all the more devastating when the same Alderelf who displayed Clara’s face shows up, this time with the face of his wife, Rosamund. When she coerces him into flying away on a stolen magic carpet, he erases any chance of rekindling his bond with his sons. I felt empty after reading this passage, along with a simmering rage.

That same anger remained within me due to Will falling in love with the same Alderelf who effectively ruined any chance of the brothers reconnecting with their father. Yes, she steals Clara’s face, but that in no way means she is Clara. I am amazed that Will chooses her over his girlfriend, whom I feel he should have done everything in his power to save. Funke could have easily written an ending that made this reunion possible; the gang could have reunited and journeyed to the real world, where they would eliminate Spieler and return to the hospital, where Will could kiss Clara. But no, Funke had to fabricate a strange and implausible romance between he and the Alderelf, which left a sour taste in my mouth. If Will’s story had changed, then Jacob and Fox’s story would have had to change as well, though.

I enjoyed the arc of these two forbidden lovebirds immensely. Set dominantly in Varangia, Funke’s alternative Tzar-ruled Russia, it centers around Jacob’s acquisition of a coveted magic carpet. Upon his obtaining it with the help of Fox’s lover, a notorious spy known as the Windhound, Jacob et. al set off in pursuit of Will. How Fox finds the Windhound and falls in love with him sent me gliding on a sky-high wave of dazzling romance. However, considering Jacob still harbors feelings he cannot act on, it may shatter your heart. I believe Funke placed the love between Jacob and Fox at the heart of the Reckless trilogy. In this volume, you find out why. As for the overall conclusion of the novel, when you reach it, tell me what you think. It doesn’t end like a trilogy. On the contrary, a fourth novel may follow.

Our previous coverage of the series includes:

Cornelia Funke Founds Her Own Publishing Company to Release Reckless: The Golden Yarn
The Grim Repercussions of Brotherly Love: Cornelia Funke’s The Petrified Flesh
Unearthly Desires in an Unruly World: Cornelia Funke’s Living Shadows

The Golden Yarn was published by Breathing Books on December 15, 2015. It is 448 pages and priced at $17.99 in hardcover and $9.99 for the digital edition. The interior art is by Cornelia Funke. The book was translated by Oliver Latsch.


Zeta Moore’s last review for us was Dazzling Dreamscapes: Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip. She is exploring work in care for individuals on the autism spectrum, and nerding out when she can.

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