Name of Book: The Book of Lost Things
By: John Connelly
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Copyright Date: 10/16/2007
Number of Pages: 480
Format: Adult Fiction/Fantasy
Reason for Reading: Cover Love at First Sight
Once upon a time, a writer named John Connelly wove some of Grimm’s grimmest fairy-tales into a fractured story-land, where Snow White was mean and rather stupid instead of fair and kind; the wolf was more afraid of Red Riding Hood than she was of the wolf; and a crooked man was the scariest monster of them all.
Suddenly and violently inserted into this strange and wondrous world is 12-year-old David, a very sad boy who possesses the startling gift of hearing books speak. Though fearful of his predicament, David welcomes the opportunity to leave behind his father, his interfering stepmother, and worst of all, his new interloping half-brother, in favor of finding and rescuing his dead mother, whom he believes imprisoned somewhere in this magical world. He receives help along the way from one woodsman, one knight, and one extremely unlikely source. As he journies, David recognizes characters from his favorite stories, but instead of finding comfort and security from them, he finds them twisted and sinister, all the more frightful for their very familiarity.
Ultimately, The Book of Lost Things takes David’s metaphorical feelings about loss and grief and makes them quite literal. David battles his own internal monsters in physical form, and in doing so, finds he has more internal strength than he believed possible. The conclusion is truly satisfying, particularly for readers who like David, have lost someone they dearly treasured. What David learns is not necessarily the recipe for a happily ever after, but quite simply an affirmation on living.
Though firmly ensconced in fantasy and make-believe, The Book of Lost Things is most decidedly a book for grown-ups. The allegories are created for those who have already crossed the bridge from youth and naivity into adulthood, yet it is so well-written, I was able to see my own childhood in David’s journey. I think older children could read this book and enjoy it, but it will have more meaning for adults. Just a caveat for squeamish readers: some of the tales fractured by Connelly are quite grisly and horrific. Think Pan’s Labyrinth.
Connelly is a new author for me and I’ve since discovered that most of his books are mysteries/thrillers. He is a terrific writer and a welcome addition to my bookcase!