Book Reviews: The Book of Lost Things

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Book of Lost Things

by John Connolly

The story opens with David, a 12-year-old boy in England, who is grieving the loss of his mother. Soon his father remarries and moves with his step-mother and half-brother to a new home. He’s frustrated and lonely and he turns to books for comfort, but when he follows their tempting whispers he ends up in another world with no way to get home.

This book is an odd mix between a coming-of-age story a fairy tale and a horror story. Connolly’s brilliantly re-imagines classic fairy tales with adult endings. For example, there are communist dwarves who live with an abusive, obese Snow White. The book’s ultimate foe is the Crooked Man, one of the cruelest, most depraved villain’s I’ve ever encountered in a novel. He is manipulative, evil, violent and vindictive.

This is definitely not a book for kids, but the author never intended it to be. I was a bit shocked by it at first because for some reason I thought it was a YA book. In actuality it’s a fairy tale for adults. At its core it is about remembering the pain of growing up and accepting the heartaches and tough decisions that follow you through life. Once I understood that I enjoyed it much more.

I don’t think this book is for everyone, but even though some moments made me squeamish, I really liked it. I’ve found myself returning to the story frequently after finishing it. I think about the characters and David’s journey and I’ve discover new depths to the challenges he faced along the way. To me, any book that has the power to linger for so long is worth reading.

“Um, and what about happily ever after? asked David. “What does that mean?”

“Eaten quickly,” said Brother Number One.


Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I know I’ve read this book. I bought it because I loved the cover, but for the life of me I don’t remember a single thing about it…

I guess it’s “lingering” power didn’t work for me :(

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Oh, you remind not to forget about this book! I remember reading the premise quite a while ago and thinking that it's the sort of book that I might like! On the wish list it goes...!

Vaishnavi said...

I have heard a lot of nice things about this book! Thanks for the review, would I be completely off the mark if I say that from what I hear of it, it somehow reminds me of Neil Gaiman's Stardust?

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Alexandra - It's amazing how books are different for each person who reads them.

Coffee - I can't wait to hear what you think.

Vaishnavi - Not at all, it definitely reminded me of both Stardust and The Princess Bride in parts. I would say it's a bit darker, but it still has a similar ssense of humor.

Teacher/Learner said...

Sounds fascinating. The only fairy tale for adults I've read is the original Cinderella story by the Brothers Grimm, which was, um, grim. I may have to check this out...boy, my TBR list is starting to resemble the customer counter at McDonalds :D

Jenners said...

It is an odd book in tone, isn't it? I thought it was a different type of book too and was like "What the heck is this????" Though, like you, once I got adjusted to the tone of the book, I really enjoyed it.

She said...

I really enjoyed this one when I read it-- it was so different from every other fairy tale I'd read. I do think I need to read it again though, for the communist dwarves if nothing else!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Teacher/Learner - I know, those original fairy tales are a bit disturbing.

Jenners - It sounds like your experience was just like mine. I wonder if it could have been presented differently to prepare the reader a bit more.

She - I didn't think this would be one I would reread, but once I finished it I kept thinking about it. I'm sure I'll return to it later.

Captain Nick Sparrow said...

This is one of my favorites! I read his new one, The Gates, in October and it was good too, but not as good.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Captain - I didn't know he had a new one out. I may have to check it out. Thanks!