Everyone loves a good fairytale. We've all heard them from our parents and we tell them to our children. After reading wonderful reviews of this book written by both Chris and Nymeth, I decided The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (352 pgs, Atria) was a book I must read!
Once Upon a Time -- for that is how all good stories should begin -- there was a boy who lost his mother. And so begins the journey of David, a young boy growing up around the time of WWII in London. When his mother got sick, David tried everything he could think of to help save her. He followed all sorts of routines, thinking if he tried hard enough, he could save her. But it just wasn't to be.
David's mother loved books. And from her, David learned to love stories. She told him that stories were alive.
Stories were different, though: they came alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them with a flashlight beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in our world. They were like seeds in the beak of a bird, waiting to fall to earth, or the notes of a song laid out on a sheet, yearning for an instrument to bring their music into being. They lay dormant, hoping for the chance to emerge. Once someone started to read them, they could begin to change. They could take root in the imagination, and transform the reader. Stories WANTED to be read, David's mother would whisper. They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. They wanted us to give them life.
When his mother died, David lost himself in his books. And his father found another woman. David was very upset by this. He didn't want someone to take the place of his mother. And this is when the books started speaking to him.
This book was brilliant! Pieces of it reminded me of another boy. A boy named Jack Sawyer, from the book The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. A boy that went to another world to save his mother. Although the story differs, the premise is the same. David wanted to save his mother, but there was nothing he could do. And yet, he did go to another world. A world outside of ours.
It also reminded me of the "Fractured Fairy Tales" I used to watch on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show when I was little. Although these fairy tales were far darker than any in the cartoons I used to watch, it was a strange twist on tales that were very familiar to me (although the obese Snow White that tortured the poor dwarfs was hilarious!) Connolly took a bunch of tales and weaved them throughout this book. He took the familiar and made it dark and scary. And he did it in a way that made you really feel frightened for David.
In the end, Connolly wrote a wonderful book that told of a heroic young boy that learned how strong he really was. He created an enemy that will leave you feeling shivers in the night. And he created a new twist on old stories. This book is for every one of us that loves the fairy tale. And don't we ALL love fairy tales?? 4.5/5
Also reviewed by:
Melody at Melody's Reading Corner