Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Book of Lost Things

This is my first official book for the RIP II challenge, (midway through September and I've only finished one book - I need to get my skates on). Anyway, I added this one to my book pool as an after-thought after reading so many good things about it on other people's blogs, and I'm really glad I did.



The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly is about twelve year old David who loses his mother through illness just at the start of World War II. Rather too soon for his liking his father finds another wife, Rose. Determined not to accept her overtures of friendship David retreats into his books of myths and fairytales and begins to hear them whispering to him. Not long after, he sees The Crooked Man for the first time. One night a German bomber crash lands in the garden and, outside and facing certain death, David makes a dash for a hole in the wall and enters, via a tree, another land. This land is peopled by characters from his fairy stories and other things much worse and far more threatening, including The Crooked Man. David needs to find his way home but there are those that don't wish him to do so and who try to stop him getting to the king's palace to see The Book of Lost Things, which could provide him with a route back to his own land.

Well, this book wasn't exactly what I thought it would be but then I'm not sure what I was expecting so that's probably a daft thing to say. The first few chapters were certainly very sad and so realistic that you soon realise that although this is a book about a child and about children's stories, it isn't really a book for young children. Older children, yes maybe, but not younger ones. And don't look for happy endings to each section. As David travels towards the palace he has many encounters and although most are character building they're not necessarily happy. Snow-white, for instance, is no Disney heroine! Although the seven dwarves are still a great comedy act... And there are some very dark things inhabiting this realm which don't appear in any fairy story. Where they come from I'm not saying but the wolves are er... interesting.

This is a beautifully written book. One of those where you can't stop turning the pages because you have to know what happens next. There are twists and turns galore, most of which I really wasn't expecting. I particularly liked the ending which was both happy and sad in equal measure and that suits me fine. That life is like that is a discovery that David makes for himself and you find yourself cheering him on all through the book - but weeping for him at the start when life is so hard. It's that kind of book and I'm so glad I squeezed it into my book pool for the RIP II challenge.

15 comments:

Chris said...

Beautiful review Cath :) You echoed my thoughts on this one. This book took my by surprise completely. I, too, picked this one up because I had heard so much about it and really didn't know what to expect and got so much more than what I actually WAS expecting. This was just a perfect book and it will definitely be in my top 10 list of the year. I'd like to read some more Connolly, but it doesn't look like he's written much else in this genre. I'll definitely be checking out more of his work though.

Kay said...

This book sounds really interesting. I have not ever heard of it but will look it up. I loved altered fairy tales. So much fun. Thanks for a great review!

DesLily said...

I read this a bit ago and really enjoyed the book too! Had I known that it would work for RIP I would have saved it!.. I think it's surprised many people!

Christina said...

I've been wanting to read this, too! I almost got it today, but since I don't need it for the R.I.P. II challenge, I'm trying to wait for it to be released here in paperback. I did pick up Connolly's collection of short stories "Nocturnes" though. I've read two of the stories so far and just love it. I want to go to bed with the light on tonight. hehe

Framed said...

This book just came in the amil today. I'm excited to read it, but will probably have to wait for another challenge like this one to squeeze it in. Thanks for the review.

Nymeth said...

I have this one on my list for the challenge as well and I really look forward to reading it - even more so after your review!

Cath said...

Thanks, Chris. I don't find reviews very easy to write to be honest and am always in awe of folk like yourself who do it well. I haven't looked in to Connolly's other books but someone mentioned a book of short stories that look good - Nocturnes.

Kay: I'd never heard of it either until this challenge came up and people started to talk about it. The joy of book blogs! :-) Another altered fairy tale I enjoyed was Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper.

Deslily: The book certainly surprised me. I'm old enough that I tend to think I've heard of most authors and books and it's such a lovely surprise to find something new that I've never heard of and that I enjoy.

Christina: Nocturnes sounds like it might be my kind of thing so I must look it up. I can see that book blogging could become expensive. ;-)

Framed: I hope you like it when you get around to it. The nice thing is that there are so many versatile challenges around you're sure to fit it into one soon.

Nymeth: It's such a good book for the challenge because although it isn't terrifying, elements of it are really quite creepy.

I hope you enjoy your time here in the UK!

Susan said...

Oooh, this one sounds really good. I'm going to the library today - hopefully I can find it there :) Thanks for the review!

Becky said...

This challenge is proving too dangerous to the tbr pile! I must make time for this one sometime, but I don't think I can squeeze it into my RIP reading this year.

Chris said...

Oh whatever, you write wonderful reviews! :p I hadn't heard of Nocturnes, just saw that in your comments, I'll have to check that one out!

Tara said...

Gorgeous review! You've made me want to pick this book up.

Booklogged said...

This is one I've read a lot of positive things about. Better add it to the list. I hope my eyesight doesn't give out before I get most of my TBR pile read.

Cath said...

Susan: I hope you found it at the library!

Becky: Yes, although nearly all the books in my RIP pool were already on my tbr pile, reading other people's reviews has certainly added to said pile. So many books I'd never heard of that sound wonderful.

Chris: Thanks again, Chris. I haven't looked up Nocturnes yet, but I will.

Tara: I really do think the book is worth looking for. :-)

Booklogged: You make a valid point about eyesight. I even worry sometimes that I won't live long enough to read my tbr mountain! LOL.

StuckInABook said...

Not come across this one before, but definitely intriguing - I love books with some fantasy elements, though I tend not to like books firmly in the fantasy genre - this sounds like a good compromise.

jenclair said...

Great review. I loved this one, too.