Review: The Book of Lost Things

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly: Book Cover

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

Rating: A

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!


About izzybella

Just trying to figure it all out.
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13 Responses to Review: The Book of Lost Things

  1. penny says:

    Wow..this sounds amazing!! I am very excited to read this. I just added it to my “Pick up” list for library! Thank you! This is the second book I have found on your blog already!


  2. Kimberly says:

    This is one of my favorite books. I always describe it as a kind of fairy tale for adults. Yes, it’s dark, but it also has some of that innocence of childhood jealousy and expectations, along with a bit of that ‘something scary is happening but I just can’t see it’ feeling that haunts some children.

    I’ve only read one other book by Connolly, and I was really surprised that it wasn’t anything like this one. It’s such a nugget of goodness; I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • izzybella says:

      A fairytale for adults is an apt description! After I finished this, I read the blurbs for some of his other stuff and they all seem REALLY different. According an interview I read though, loss and grief seem to be an underlying theme in most of his work. I plan on checking it out.

  3. Bumbles says:

    Ahhhh – I love love loved this book. I tell everyone I know to read it when they are in a reading slump, or looking for something completely different. There is nothing else out there like it. Even Pan’s Labyrinth isn’t the same.

    I describe it as a cross between the Brothers Grimm and Monty Python. There is a lot of humor in between the graphic fairy tales gone wrong.

    • izzybella says:

      Goodness, why I am just now hearing about this book??!! True story, Bumbles. I was walking in the bookstore after my dentist appointment a couple of weeks ago (I always reward myself for going to the dentist with a trip to the Borders bookstore that’s right next door) and that cover pretty much leapt out at me and said “you must take me home and read me.” So I did. I’m really easy that way. Please don’t tell as it would ruin my flawless reputation. 🙂

      I like the Brothers Grimm meets Mony Python. Perfect!!

  4. Okay, Brothers Grimm mets Monty Python? What’s not to love! This is going onto my Wish List.

  5. Margot says:

    Okay guys, this is not my normal genre, although I do recall Brothers Grimm fondly. But Izzy — I LOVE the way you wrote this review. You drew me right in immediately in the first sentence. And then it felt like I was reading a fun story. I almost forgot I don’t like fantasy.

    Actually, I’m reading an award-winning YA novel based on another Grimm story. Believe it or not, it’s also a fantasy. It’s Book Of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. (Next Thursday’s post.) I think Quirky Girls is leading me down an off-beat path. lol

    • izzybella says:

      Well thank you, Margot. It’s been my experience that hanging out with Quirky Girls has done the exact same thing for me. I find since I met Soleil that I’ve done lots of interesting things I probably would not have otherwise done!!

  6. Janet says:

    I’ve picked up and put this book down a few times…but after reading this review, I’ll give it another try, since we seem to have similar tastes.

  7. Kathleen says:

    I’ve had this book on my shelf to read for some months now. I’m pretty sad I have waited so long to read it after reading your thoughts about it. I’ve yet to hear a bad review of this one.

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