TITLE: The Book Of Lost Things
AUTHOR: John Connolly
PUBLISHER: Atria Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Horror
RATING: 4/5 Stars
High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own -- populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.
What I Liked:
- The best aspect of this book by far is the way that it re-imagines age old Fairy Tales, Myths & Legends and makes them a little darker, more twisted and less innocent. You won't find much in the way of happy endings here and I think that's refreshing in it's own right. Sometimes, the different endings, genders, etc. were funny, as was the case with Snow White & the seven dwarves. Others were very dark and horrifying (the Huntress was not a character I recognised but if you're not a fan of gore then her chapter won't be for you) but I appreciated each and every one of them. I love symbolism and hidden, deeper meanings in stories so this was perfect!
- There were some great characters in this book, both good and bad. My favourite was actually the Crooked Man because of his unquenchable evil. I'm normally more of a fan of villains with back-story or moral ambiguity but in this case, I liked that the Crooked Man had neither of those things. It totally worked! He gave the story a 'Labyrinth' like feel (one of my favourite films) and the fact that he could not be persuaded made him all the more interesting. He was pretty funny too at times.
What I Disliked:
- Connolly's actual writing was a little, minor disappointment in that I was expecting to be totally blown away and simply wasn't. There were of course some lovely moments, and wonderful quotes, but for the most part I felt let down by the pacing. It was as if Connolly had written the perfect beginning and ending but struggled to fill the middle.
- David, the hero, posed mixed feelings within me too. I felt genuinely sorry for his situation and sympathised with his loneliness in his new situation, but I often found him incredibly naive, a little frustrating and too spoilt as well. When a villain like the Crooked Man comes along, I feel it's important that the hero should be the polar opposite and I didn't always get that sense with David. I appreciate that this was a Coming Of Age story too however, and found this only a minor quibble.
This book was a lot of fun from beginning to end and being a big fan of a lot of the things that this book represented, I loved it! Some outstanding character work that could be extended to most, the inclusion of diversity (homosexuality being one of the key twists in one well-known tale), some interesting takes on well-known stories and a few new tales that I hadn't read before, and a well-thought up Fantasy land. Fantastic! Minor issues such as obvious 'filler' stories and frustrating heroes were nothing when it came to focusing on the bigger picture for this book.