Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Sinister Fairy Tale for Adults

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:


Unknown said...

Oh, this just sounds so wonderful! Great review. I've had it on my list for a while. Hopefully, I can get to it soon. So many books ....

chrisa511 said...

Great review Steph! I'm so glad you read this. It's one of my favorite books of the year. Snow White cracked me up in this book :) That was about the only humorous thing though. Connoly's writing is just amazing isn't it? I want to read his short story collection, Nocturne's, now. I've heard that it's great too!

Ana S. said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Stephanie. I had a feeling you would. I'm going to look for "The Talisman"'s about time I start reading Stephen King.

Speaking of fairy tales with dark twists, I can't wait for you to get to Snow, Glass Apples on Smoke & Mirrors. I really think you'll love it!

Melody said...

I have this book in my TBR pile!!! I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the great review, Stephanie!

Literary Feline said...

I am really looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the great review!

Carl V. Anderson said...

This is certainly one I want to read sometime, I have ever since I picked it up in the bookstore as a gift for someone else. Thankfully I can borrow that from that same someone whenever I get a chance to read it! Woo-hoo!!!

Debi said...

Wonderful review, Stephanie! I went out and bought this one right after reading Nymeth's review, but haven't read it yet. (Actually saving it to read for homeschooling in a couple months when we get to fairy tales.)

And now you've made me want to go get The Talisman, too. I read it too many years ago to count, and I really can't remember it all. Crap--I'm getting old.

DesLily said...

Glad you enjoyed this book...I read this from reviews also, some time ago.. it really is a good book!

jpderosnay said...

ooh, i want to know more! like how the fairy tales link into the story and what the villian is like...!

i also like that passage about how stories are real... its very well put.

John Mutford said...

Everyone keeps raving about this book- I really need it. Speaking of the Talisman, did you ever read their 2nd project together? I was disappointed. And the fairy tale for adults thing- did you watch Pan's Labyrinth? I loved it.

Andi said...

OK OK! Between you and Heather I MUST HAVE this book. ASAP.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you liked the book! Wasn't it wonderful? I'm reading Connolly's collection of short stories NOCTURNES right now which I'm also enjoying. Connolly is an excellent writer, and one I'm going to keep my eye on.

Nice catch with the bit about THE TALISMAN. I haven't thought about that book in years!

Unknown said...

I am really looking forward to reading this next year. I have the edition with the origianl tales at the end which is going to be great.

MLight said...

Sounds wonderful! I'll definitely read this one soon.

Jill said...

Thanks for the wonderful review. It is one of those books I keep meaning to read but haven't gotten around to, somehow. I'll have to bump it up closer to the top of my mental book pile!

YowlYY said...

Hi, I found your blog by chance, looking for reviews of "The Book of Lost Things", which I've just finished reading. I have to agree with you...."The Talisman" comes indeed to mind, also another book I enjoyed!
This copy of Connolly's book is a bookring registered with bookcrossing and has now gone to the next reader, but I will want to read this book again, so here I go, on the lookout for a hardback copy to keep with me.
Thank you for your lovely review :)

Mrs. Funruh said...

i'm not sure if my comment posted. i'm looking for discussion questions for The Book of Lost Things. Can you think of some that would be good for a book club? if so, please email me at

Anonymous said...

s book and loved it - here's my review in case you fancy stopping by to read it.

I really loved how Connolly gave the fairy tales a new twist - especially the story of Snow White ;0)

The Crooked Man was truly scary - especially when we got a glimpse at his caverns under the castle.

I did try looking for some discussion questions but came up empty handed. Sometimes the questions help me write a better review of the novel.

Anonymous said...

Hmm it cut half my comments off! The previous post should have started with - I have just finished up this book and loved it!

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