The first time I “read” The Book of Lost Things, I was on an eight-hour trip from Maine to Ithaca, NY. Before I left, I stopped by Borders and searched endlessly for something decent to listen to on audio and took a chance with The Book of Lost Things. It was definitely a great choice.
A Short Summary:
The Book of Lost Things starts off in World War 2. The main character, David, a boy of 10, is mourning the loss of his mother who died of cancer. His father marries the nurse who took care of his ailing wife and together they have a new baby. David does not take to his new brother, or his new stepmother. He begins to retreat back to the books that his mother introduced him to and begins to hear the books speak. Soon he begins to see the Crooked Man who has taken an interest in his little brother. The Crooked Man steals away his brother and David chases after as bombs drop from Nazis. He slips into a crack in an ancient wall in his backyard and finds himself in a fantastical world. In this world, he battles forward in search of the Crooked Man to save his brother. Along the way, he finds himself immersed in ancient fairy tales: some who torment and try to kill him; others who try to help him in his quest. A unique story that starts off as historical fiction but soon becomes a story of fantasy and adventure while resurrecting fairytales that have long been told.
I really liked this story but the beginning of the book definitely starts off slow. Now this may be because I bought a fantasy audio book, and was confused when it started off during World War II. I wanted to jump directly into the fantasy, which is not something that Connolly does and I wasn’t completely sure where it was going. He slowly brings in the aspects of fantasy before he enters the world of fantasy. To use a metaphor, it’s as if the fantasy slowly seeps out of the crack in the wall and only when David goes through the ancient wall do we actually get into the fantasy. By Chapter 4, we begin to get whispers of fantasy and once David travels through the ancient wall, the story is completely consumed by fantasy.
The story is filled with fractured fairy tales. We explore some fairy tales that are old and terrifying and others that are familiar, such as Snow White, with an unexpected (and funny) twist. As we follow young David on his quest, he definitely grows from a spoiled bratty kid to a hero.
The story is dark and full of violence. There are some parts in the book that are gory and terrifying. There are dwarves, dragons, nymphs, wolves, and many other fantastical characters. While I do state that it’s filled with fairytales, they are similar to Grimm’s fairytales BEFORE Disney got a hold of them. Even with a ten-year-old protagonist, this is an adult story. The best way to describe this story is to think of books like The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland combined with a little Edgar Allen Poe. David grows to understand and accept his stepmother, death, and his new brother through his many trials and tribulations. I suggest this book for someone who enjoys dark fantasy, with some dark humor, combines with some gore and terror. You won’t be disappointed. Eight Stars.