Published: October 16, 2007
Number of pages: 339
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: fantasy, childhood, adventure, fairy tale twist
Audience: older adults
Rating: 5 owl hoots out of 5
David is devastated as he looses his mother, and as there is a war across Europe David finds refuge by reading his beloved books. But then he hears them whispering to him, and David’s world slowly falls apart as fantasy and reality are melded into one. David finds himself in another world inhabited by monsters, faded kings, and characters that only exist in fairy tales…or so he thought. The only way to return home is by finding a mysterious book called the Book of Lost Things.
This is a story about childhood and grief. A story of a boy discovering how we can learn so much about the world and life just by reading books. This is unlike any other coming of age story I’ve ever read. I know I sound really gushy when I say that I loved everything about this book: the characters, the plot, the fairy tales, and the incredible journey our hero finds in a world filled with endless possibilities.
I was completely absorbed with this book. In the beginning we see the innocence of a boy who feels lost after his mother died and is succumbed to grief. But that grief turns to anger and torment as his family changes and a war is underway in London. So David turns to reading as an escape, which is something that I always do when I’m alone and bored with reality. But David finds a way to literally escape reality as he steps into another world that is a reflection of his own, but with fairy tales, monsters, and kings brought to life.
I really liked how John Connolly creates a unique dark twist to fairy tale characters from the Brother’s Grimm stories. There were entertaining characters like Snow White and her unhappy dwarves, and characters that were downright scary, such as the huntress. Reading her story reminded me of Frankenstein, but with a terrifying ending to the huntress’s tale. And then we meet the Crooked Man, the villain of David’s story who is cruel and disgusting as the bugs he eats. He possesses the story book elements of a villain who sets forth challenges and opportunities to tempt the hero at performing a terrible act against the people who love him. The Crooked Man is exactly the type of villain he should be, a trickster and a monster who despises love and humanity.
I loved how every character in this other world helped David to becoming a better man, whether it’s telling their stories or performing a courageous act to help him across his quest to meeting the king and finding the Book of Lost Things. As I was reading the story, I could see how David has grown from an innocent boy to a brave young man who has matured for his age.
David is a character that is a reflection of us. A vulnerable and innocent child who reads to learn about life and of the hidden lands we imagine. We read to understand, to learn, to imagine, and to escape. Stories are meant to be told and books are meant to be read. I was happy as the story ended as it should. If you haven’t read The Book of Lost Things I recommend that you do, as you won’t regret it. I know I say this a lot, but this is another highly anticipated story that I think everyone should read.