Inkling- Kenneth Oppel

Walker Books

Book Review By Gemma E McLaughlin

I decided to do my Review this week on Inkling, partly because of how wonderful I thought the idea was. I’ve never read any of Kenneth m other work but if it is all as unique, sweet and well-written as this one I am immensely excited to read them. The cover art is sweet and eye-catching, and the blurb brings hopeful thoughts of a fun, beautiful, and uplifting story to come. The energy brought from simply picking up and reading a little bit about the book stays with the reader through every page.

The main character Ethan is the son of the creator of a famous comic book, and though he lacks the same talents as his father, he finds himself stuck drawing a comic book for a school group project. Stuck in between not wanting to let down his friends, and feeling inadequate compared to his dad’s abilities, Ethan dreads carrying out his duties until the introduction of the book’s title character. In the night, when everyone other than the family’s cat Rickman is sleeping, the ink from drawings in Ethan’s recently uninspired dad’s sketchbook come together to form a living splat of ink.

Ethan soon discovers this when he finds that the splat, which feeds on ink from drawings, newspapers, and books alike, has erased his maths Homework. The two quickly become friends as Ethan names it Inkling and it starts to draw the comic for him, making the story come beautifully to life with every panel. Through a series of twists, conflicts and a few sad moments along the way Ethan, and all the other characters learn important lessons from Inkling about art and life. The story is lighthearted, clever and just truly a joy to follow.

I think, by far my favourite part of reading this was the character of Inkling. I love the way that Kenneth Oppel took something so simple, and made it into a flawed, exciting and perfectly developed character. At some points in the book Inkling speaks by using its ink to spell out words, at first making spelling mistakes and unsure if some words but progressing its language skills all the time. The joyful ink splat is of course used to further the plot and character developments that would have taken place another, albeit less exciting way, otherwise but also becomes a character of its own.

I read a lot of very sad, serious books nowadays and although there are ups and downs in the story there was something so magically happy about the way the story was told. Each page felt warm and welcoming, almost familiar. This particular feeling is one I haven’t experienced in a long time with a book, possibly even never. Inkling is a story I think is so precious and one so many would enjoy and is a novel that I completely, and genuinely recommend.