Jacob has uncovered the doorway to another world, hidden behind a mirror. It is a place of dark magic and enchanted objects, scheming dwarves and fearsome ogres, fairies born from water and men born from stone.
Here, he hunts for treasure and seeks adventure in the company of Fox - a beautiful, shapeshifting girl, who guides and guards him.
But now Jacob's younger brother has followed him into the mirrored world, and all that was freedom has turned to fear. Because a deadly curse has been spoken; and Jacob must risk his life to reverse it, before his brother is turned to stone forever...
Revised and updated by Cornelia Funke, The Petrified Flesh is the first book in the thrilling Reckless series.
About the Author
Hometown:Los Angeles, CA
Date of Birth:December 10, 1958
Place of Birth:Dorsten, Germany
Education:University of Hamburg
Read an Excerpt
Twelve Years Later
The sun already stood low over the walls of the burned ruin,
but Will was still asleep, exhausted from the pain and the fear of what would was growing in his flesh. One mistake. After twelve years of caution.
Jacob covered his brother with his cloak and looked up at the sky. The two moons were already visible and the setting sun blackened the surrounding hills. He had made this world his home. Twelve years were a long time. By fourteen he already couldn’t count the months he had spent behind the mirror, despite his mother’s tears, despite her helpless fear for him… “Where have you been, Jacob? Please! Tell me!” How?
How could he have told her without loosing the precious freedom the mirror granted him, all the life he had found behind it, the feeling to be so much more himself behind its glass.
“Where have you been, Jacob?” She had never found out.
He had told Will of this world, convinced his brother would believe it all to be nothing but a fairy tale. He should have known him better. Why didn’t he realize that his stories would fill Will with the same yearning that drove him through the mirror? Be honest, Jacob, you didn’t want to think
about it. No. He had longed to share what he had found with someone, and as his father’s study had kept the mirror’s secret for so many years, it had been far too easy to convince himself that it would be safe there forever.
Maybe it would have been if he hadn’t been so eager to go back. He had forgotten only once to lock the door, and his hand was already pressed against the dark glass when
Will walked in. It is so tempting to escape one’s bad conscience by changing worlds. Everything in the apartment had reminded Jacob that he had been looking for a glass shoe while his mother was dying. You have deserted her, Jacob,
her empty room had whispered. Exactly like your father.
In fairy tales the heroes are punished when they run away from a task. The heroes, not their younger brothers…
The wounds on Will’s neck healed well, but the stone already showed in his left arm. It was jade. That was unusual.
Mostly it was carnelian, jasper, moonstone…
“He has already the scent of a Goyl.” The vixen moved out of the shadows cast by the crumbling walls. Her fur was as red as if autumn itself had dyed it. Over her hind leg it was streaked with pale scars. It had been almost five years since Jacob had freed Fox from the iron teeth of a poacher’s trap, and she had guarded his sleep ever since,
warning him of dangers that his dull human senses could not detect, giving advice that was best followed.
“What are you waiting for? Wake him and take him back.
We’ve been here for hours.” The impatience in her voice was hard to miss. “That’s what we came here for, isn’t it?”
Jacob looked at his sleeping brother. Yes, that’s why he had brought Will back to the tower: to take him back to the other world. But how was he supposed to live there growing a skin of jade? Jacob walked under the arch which held the scorched remnants of the castle’s doors. A Heinzel scampered off as Jacob’s shadow fell on him. It was barely bigger than a mouse, with red eyes above a pointy nose, and pants and shirt sewn from stolen human clothes. The ruin was swarming with them.
“I changed my mind,” he said. “There’s nothing in the other world that can help him.”
Jacob had tried to tell Fox years ago about the world he came from, but she didn’t want to hear about it. What she knew was enough: the place to which he disappeared far too often to bring back memories that followed him like shadows.
“And? What do you think will happen to him here?”
In her world, fathers killed their own sons as soon as they discovered the stone in their skin. But Jacob was sure that if there was a cure they would find it here.
At the foot of the hill the red roofs of Schwanstein were fading into the twilight and the first lights were coming on in the houses. In his first year behind the mirror, Jacob had worked in one of the stables. From a distance, it looked like one of the pictures printed on gingerbread tins. Only the tall smokestacks of the factories sending gray smoke into the evening sky didn’t fit into that image. The New
Magic… that’s what technology and science were called in this world. The Petrified Flesh, though, was not sown by mechanical looms or other modern achievements, but by the old magic that dwelled in its hills and valleys, its rivers,
oceans, flowers, and trees; in Seven Miles Boots, Witch
Needles, and countless other magical objects that Jacob had made his craft to find.
A Gold-Raven landed on the wall under which Will was sleeping. Jacob shooed it away before it could croak one of its sinister spells in his brother’s ear.
Will groaned in his sleep. The human skin did not yield to the jade without a fight. Jacob felt the pain as his own and for the first time ever he found himself cursing the mirror. He had only returned to the apartment for his brother, always at night so as to be sure his mother would be sleeping. Her tears had made it too hard to leave again,
but Will had just wrapped his arms around him, asking what he had brought for him. The shoes of a Heinzel, the cap of a Thumbling, a button made of Elven glass, a piece of scaly Waterman skin—Will had hidden Jacob’s gifts behind his books, and then he had asked for more stories about the world where his brother found such treasure,
until dawn cast its light onto the faded wallpaper and
Jacob stole back to the mirror.
He grabbed his rucksack. “I’ll be back soon. If he wakes tell him he has to wait for me. Don’t allow him to go near the tower.”
“And where are you going?” The vixen moved into his path. “You can’t help him, Jacob.”
“I know. But I have to try.”