Comics come to life in INKLING (Kenneth Oppel)

I’m geeking out about the kidlit trend of “reality bleeds between a book and the main character”, so naturally Kenneth Oppel’s INKLING struck my fancy.

Kidding, it was actually the adorable, smiling inkblot on the cover of Kidlit Exchange’s Instagram feed. Thank you to Random House Kids and of course Kidlit Exchange for the review copy.   All opinions are my own.

An inkblot from the notebook of a grieving comic book artist’s half-hearted attempts at working becomes sentient, and befriends eleven-year-old Ethan Rylance (the artist’s son).

Inkling quickly becomes “the glue that holds the family” (still reeling from Ethan’s mom’s fairly recent death) together, but Dad’s publisher, greedy Mr. Worthington, won’t stop prying till he gets Inkling for himself. 

What nobody knows is that Inkling can multiply, leading to heartwarming, action-packed, madcap adventures worthy of an awesome pulp comic.

I don’t do spoilers, but am hopeful that INKLING ended on a possible cliffhanger. I’d be here for a sequel.


  • The book design and Sidney Smith’s amazing illustrations (plus the uncredited book designer) contribute significantly to the story, so INKLING is better enjoyed as a hard copy. I love you, Audible, but sometimes we need to see other people, even if they are technically fictional. 
  • Yes,  this is the same Kenneth Oppel who wrote the brain-bending, creeps-you-out-for-months-afterward MG horror THE NEST. The co-antagonists, Mr. Worthington and Vika, are greedy and competitive, but not pure evil. In other words, if you’re looking for nightmares, INKLING probably won’t deliver. 


  • An inkblot comes to life – what’s not to love? 
  • Oppel’s intro, involving the inkblot and the cat, are a spectacular way to “break the rules” of writing and kill it. 

Other Mirrors and Windows

  • Bereaved children
  • Absent-minded, depressed parents (Ethan’s recently widowed dad)
  • Siblings of neurodiverse children (if that is the correct description – Ethan’s little sister Sarah has Down Syndrome.)
  • “B” story of Ethan learning to come into his own, and not follow in his dad’s footsteps as everyone seems to expect him to do. 
  • Being an author/cartoonist isn’t all fun and games – Mr. Rylance struggles with financial stress and deadlines in a way that will resonate with a lot of full-time authors.

INKLING is available now from Random House Kids. 

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