Sunday, March 14, 2010

"The Book of Lost Things" by John Connolly

Summary: David has always been closest to his books and his mother.  When his mother dies after a long fight with illness, David's father remarries, and David resents his new stepmother and stepbrother.  He again seeks solace in the stories he grew up with, but now he can also hear the books whispering to him.  Strange dreams begin to follow him, and one night, drawn by his mother's voice, he enters a hole in the garden outside his home and reemerges in another world.  This world is full of danger and also helpers, and David learns his only chance to return home is to journey to the King and his mysterious Book of Lost Things.  But with a pack of man-wolves and a trickster named the Crooked Man after him, finding home again will not be easy.

Musings: Strangely, March seems to be a "books about books" month for me, with The Book of Lost Things following my reading of Fforde's The Well of Lost Plots and North's Libyrinth.  Because reading is so important in my life, it's been interesting to read how various authors have imagined other-worldly relationships between books and readers.

Of the three, The Book of Lost Things is my favorite, perhaps because it is able to succeed in combining different aspects of literature together.  It incorporates the retelling of fairy tales within a classic fairy tale structure while also seeming contemporary, and it features a young protagonist coming of age within an adult categorization instead of YA.

There is something comforting and reassuring in David's journey, which never feels foreign.  Some stories referenced and transformed within The Book of Lost Things are directly from childhood classics (Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin), but even when Connolly is not directly relying on individual stories, the feel of David's journey remains within the fairy tale genre.  However, this impression did not make the story seem tired to me, but rather enhanced the book's atmosphere and tone.

Like the original fairy tales, Connolly's book acknowledges that real stories have no "happily ever after."  However, the lack of assured happiness does not mean that the relationships forged through selflessness and compassion are worthless.  David's relationships with the brave Woodsman and the knight Roland help David overcome fear of real threats and imagined. There is a lesson within the book, but it's more realistic than cautionary.

***This book qualifies for the TwentyTen Reading Challenge ("Who Are You?" category).


  1. I really enjoyed reading this one. I need to remember to put Connolly's new book on hold at the library. Oh! Oh! Did you like the gnomes? ? ? ;p

  2. I think the communist dwarfs were definitely my favorite! I hadn't heard of Connolly before, but I'm looking forward to reading more by him. I heard this book was outside his normal genre, so it would be interesting to read something different. I'd love to hear what you think of his new one.

  3. I really want to read this book. I loved Connolly´s "The Gates" and this one seems equally great. And his books have fantastic cover art :)

  4. I totally agree! I normally don't pay too much attention to the covers, but this one really is beautiful.