The Book of Lost Things
by John Connolly
I can't even remember where I heard about this book now. It's been on my TBR list for ages, and sitting in my TBR pile for months (since I bought it back on Hallowe'en). I finally got around to reading it, in part because I wanted to read something for the 2010 Fantasy Reading Challenge that wasn't YA. So here we are. And what can I say? I really enjoyed this book.
After the death of his beloved mother, David finds himself stuck living with his father, his stepmother, and his baby half-brother. In addition, he hears books whispering to him and has attacks where he blacks out and catches glimpses of a strange world of half-darkness, trees, and castles. He eventually finds himself lost in this other world. He sets off to see the king, who may know how to return David to his own world. But David has drawn the attention of a number of evil creatures, and they won't stop until they get what they want.
It's been a while since I read any fiction that wasn't young adult or middle grade. The Book of Lost Things may be classed as "adult", but it's really a tale about stories: those we tell ourselves and the power those stories can have. There were a few mature themes (such as bestiality and child molestation) that were touched on, but these things were mentioned in passing and never in much graphic detail. The violence was, at times, a bit gory, but I've actually seen worse in YA fiction. So this book would probably be suitable for older teens, as well as adults.
I was sucked into the narrative almost immediately; John Connolly's writing style is lovely and flowing, and manages to convey the perfect amount of emotion throughout the story without degenerating into purple prose.
David was an interesting character, and quite well-written. He was supposed to be about 12 (if I remember correctly), and he was written as such. Some of his reactions rang quite true. He wasn't portrayed as dumb, but he wasn't obnoxiously precocious, either. As far as the other characters go, I quite liked the Woodsman and Roland, two father-like figures that David meets in his travels in this strange world. But the secondary characters were fun, too. Connolly draws upon fairy tales to populate his world, and so David runs into wolves (Little Red Riding Hood), dwarfs (Snow White), and sleeping princesses (Sleeping Beauty)... but they're not what you'd expect.
There's not much more I can say without giving away too much of the plot and the little surprises that come with it. So I'll conclude by saying that, if you enjoy stories that incorporate fairy tales while also touching on some deeper themes (such as betrayal, love, and family), The Book of Lost Things might be something you'd enjoy.
Overall: 4.6 out of 5