Review: The Golden Yarn (Reckless book 3) by Cornelia Funke


Jacob Reckless hoped his troubles might be over. But the long-cast net of the Alder Elves is finally gathering in, and Jacob, Fox, Will and Clara will all get caught up in a plan that has stretched centuries. Jacob must chase Will through Mirrorworld before his brother can catch up to the Dark Fairy on her fateful journey that leads deep through Cossack territory, with time-eating witches, legendary creatures made flesh and caged, and flying carpets fueled by memories. Love pushes them all on and on, until they come face to face with the Spinner herself, the weaver of the threads of fate. 


In The Golden Yarn, the third book in the Reckless, or Mirrorworld, series, we spend more time with series characters who have so far spent more time in the background. We encounter Dad Reckless in a much more meaningful way, and at an interesting point in Jacob’s attitude to his missing father. And the greater power behind the events of the series so far is finally revealed, with a power and a plan which will shake both worlds to their cores. We discover more about the origins of the Fairies, and the mirrors, and the threads of the world which bind our fates together.

It is a little odd that the Yarns – threads of love, of fate, of immortality – haven’t even been alluded to until now. It’s possible that this is a consequence of the greater share that the Dark Fairy’s perspective is given in the narrative. But we’ve been in her head before, and if they were so clear, and so consequential, it would have felt a more confident reveal if there had been hints in the earlier books.

Book three introduces another ‘species’ of half-person, in the form of the Alder Elf’s minions, Sixteen and Seventeen. Glass people who steal faces, they appear to have very little free will, at least in the beginning. Sixteen is cruel, but the true focus is on Seventeen – she is cruel as well, and her bark-growths are presented as deformity, but she is (apparently inevitably) attractive to Will, and therefore receives a great deal more attention. The monstrousness of her existence is almost disregarded, even by the Bastard, who hates her, in favour of the sadness of her plight. Because, of course, no woman can be truly monstrous – in her non-human features, she can only be more desirable to the men around her, and apparently particularly to the Reckless brothers. I’m repeating myself here, but I’d like to see a portrayal of a half-woman as actively monstrous, as much as the Man-Swans and the Man-Stags are, without them being objects of desire – and worse, being granted redemption by the power of a man’s desire for her.

It’s really amping up in this one, and the narrative is opening up to reveal threads grander than the Reckless brothers’ adventures. The relentless chase East, East, gives us a look at a different part of Mirrorworld, based on the folk tales of Russia and Eastern Europe. There are new creatures, new magical objects, new dangers, and new and old friends. I’m curious about the French Canadian Sylvain , who seems so mysteriously well adapted to life in Mirrorworld, and who I absolutely ship with Canute for want of any on-page queer representation. It’s somewhat chaotic, but the deeper glimpses into the Dark Fairy’s story are absolutely fascinating, and her story stands out amongst all the threads of this narrative as one swimming in sorrow and immortal resolve.


The Golden Yarn by Cornelia Funke was published by Pushkin’s Children’s Books in November 2016. You can buy it from Waterstones here.

The Golden Yarn meets the criteria for:

Beat the Backlist 2017 Hogwarts Mini-Challenge

10 pages = 1 point: 646 pages

Write a review: 50 points

Hermione’s Library: Begins with the letter ‘G’.

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