Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

David has always been an avid reader, but after the loss of his mother he gradually retreats more and more into them. Then the unthinkable happens, his Dad meets Rose and soon he gets a new brother, Georgie. Meanwhile Hitler marches through Europe and the bombs begin to drop on London. Taken to live in Rose's house outside the City, David finds the world around him becoming more and more unrecognizable. It is then that The Crooked Man begins to appear and David's life will never be the same again.

If you ever read and enjoyed Grimm's fairy tales and all those myths and legends you read as a child, The Book of Lost Things is the book for you. You will delight in the re-fashioning of Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty and many others. As David makes his way through the magical world he finds himself in you will keep finding references to other childhood stories you know. Connolly gives all of these stories a darker (and in some cases almost black) edge though and there is a bit of gore to be had. It is definitely more of a book for adults to appreciate the stories of their childhood than one to read to young children.

The book is beautifully written. I got so engrossed in every detail, from the smell of the Woodsman's Cottage to the visceral deaths of the wolves at the hands of the Crooked Man. The story flows seamlessly through each tale, to make a rounded and full tale all in its own right. It deals with the issues of grief and jealously from the point of view of a small child, but not written in a childish way. I honestly couldn't put this book down and at over 300 pages it is not a light read. I can't put into words just how much I enjoyed this book. The characters had depth, they weren't perfect and they incorporated some very adult themes you don't often find in fairy tales (there is a suggestion that one of the characters is homosexual). Yet it wasn't written in such a way as to make any of the characters sound scandalous. I didn't feel Connolly was being unfaithful to the fairy tales, just adding the bits that children would never know. A bit like not knowing or understanding that a family friend is gay when you're a child but finding out about it when you grow up.

I would recommend this to anyone, I can't stress enough how much of a good read it is.

*5 stars*

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