Friday, April 24, 2009

The Book of Lost Things
by John Connolly

This book was great!

I had been wanting to read The Book of Lost Things for a while, but it definitely came on my radar after a friend sent it to me to read. Even still, I let it sit on my shelf for months, and only recently had a chance to savor it. Mmmm, mmmm.

David is a young boy who loses his mother. He's sad and traumatized, trying to come to grips with the death, why it happened, and how to make sense of it in a world filled with violence and cruelty (the novel's set in London against the backdrop of World War II). On top of that, David's father develops a relationship with a nurse at his mother's hospital and they move to her big house in the country where they are to start their new family life together. David's Dad and stepmom are pregnant too, and he starts to feel more isolated and like a relic of a past life than part of his father's life.

On top of this, David suffers frequent blackouts, and books murmur to him at times. He loves to read, and only retreats further into books after his mother's death because it reminds him of her. He finds solace in the stories. And one night, through a crack in the stone garden wall, he enters another world, one filled with horror and gore, but also hopes of goodness. As David journeys through this world he confronts his mother's death, grapples with accepting his new family, and grows up. It is a terrifying, gory, and downright fantastic coming of age story.

Connolly has a deep respect for fairy tales, and uses them consistently here to forward his story. It's both what make the book unique and irresistible. I have not heard of him before this one, but he's on my list now. I will read more.

I recommend this book highly. It's got everything, and the cover is really cool, which usually means that the book will be good. Right?


z00s said...

I thought this book was written for young adults, in the vein of Harry Potter. After reading your review, I think I assumed incorrectly. What do you say?

Sheridan Sawyer said...

Actually, John Connolly talks about this in an interview at the end of the book. He doesn't go so far as to say it's a young adult book; rather, he calls out the adult themes and says adults will tend to get more out of the story because they will have experienced more from it.

I think it's suitable for young adults, the themes are universal, the gore is in context, and the material is completely PG.