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New York Times bestselling author John Connolly's unique imagination takes readers through the end of innocence into adulthood and beyond in this dark and triumphantly creative novel of grief and loss, loyalty and love, and the redemptive power of stories.

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother. He is angry and alone, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in his imagination, he finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a land that is a strange reflection of his own world, populated by heroes and monsters, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book … The Book of Lost Things.

An imaginative tribute to the journey we must all make through the loss of innocence into adulthood, John Connolly's latest novel is a book for every adult who can recall the moment when childhood began to fade, and for every adult about to face that moment. The Book of Lost Things is a story of hope for all who have lost, and for all who have yet to lose. It is an exhilarating tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.

Topics: London, Forest, Bildungsroman, Metafiction, Retellings, Adventurous, Dark, Mystical, Folk and Fairy Tales, World War II, Coming of Age, Death, Stepparents, Fathers, Heartfelt, Family, Grief, Wolves, Trolls, Knights, Mothers, Journeys, and Irish Author

Published: Atria Books on
ISBN: 9781416542759
List price: $12.99
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I really enjoyed The Book of Lost Things. I was worried I wouldn't, as I'd heard opinions both ways, but I did like it. I thought that some of the descriptions were just spot on, from the very start --

He had, in truth, been losing [his mother] for a very long time. The disease that was killing her was a creeping, cowardly thing, a sickness that ate away at her from the inside, slowly consuming the light within so that her eyes grew a little less bright with each passing day, and her skin a little more pale.

After all, I just watched someone die like that. And that is how it is: something is lost every day. The first day I visited my grandfather in hospital, he smiled at me and tried to reassure me that he would be alright soon. The next time I visited him, I was the only person he recognised -- or at least, the only one he responded to (he still tried to smile at me, especially when I told him I was making Grandma a cup of tea). Then the next day, he couldn't see us at all, and all he could say was "I don't understand". And then the next day he took one long last breath and died. So yes, that's the way it goes: illness eats a person up from the inside, stealing them piece by piece, day by day.

Maybe it was that first bit and how it struck me as just right, and the fact that I'm grieving now, that got me so invested in the story. In a way, I expected all of it: it's basically the same story as the first Malory Towers book, or even Edmund and Lucy from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Sibling jealousies and conflicts. The rewritings of fairytales weren't all that surprising to me, immersed as I am in fairytale retellings. But something about the turn of phrase was just right, and I fell in love with the quiet love story of Roland and Raphael, as well.

There's a lot of violence and ugliness in this book, and sometimes that doesn't read very well. I read reviews of this that felt the retellings were quite female-positive, but it didn't feel that way to me. There're powerful women in the story, but their sexuality is almost part of the horror. It's the homosexual relationship between Raphael and Roland, with one of them safely off-screen, which is idealised, and the homosocial relationships between Roland and David, or David and his father, or David and the Woodsman. The more I think about that the more uncomfortable I feel -- though Anna is free of that disturbing power (but then, she's a perpetual child), and so is David's mother (although the bit with kissing her corpse could ring a little oddly, and her coaxing voice leading him astray, and the whole dead Madonna thing she has going on). David's step-mother is maybe the most positive: he sees her negatively, but comes to understand her better and try harder to get along with her.

Anyway, those points didn't stop me enjoying the story quite a lot, but it's worth thinking about.

Oh, and after reading other reviews and so on, I decided to skip the 150 pages of analysis that Connolly includes. I'm aware of pretty much all the fairytales mentioned, so I don't need the background, and I preferred on reflection to let the story stand alone. I'm a postgrad lit student, I don't need Connolly to do the work for me...more
A coming-of-age tale centered upon young David, who has lost his mother and resents his new stepmother and baby brother. Trying to escape his circumstances, David stumbles into an eerie fairy tale world of knights and beasts much like those in the stories his mother used to recount. David sets out on a quest to find the king, whose Book of Lost Things holds the secret to his return home and, David hopes, perhaps even to his mother’s return to life. Reminiscent at times of Lewis’s Narnia, at others of the Brothers Grimm, The Book of Lost Things will resonate with those who still believe in the magic of childhood.more
Really enjoyed this one, especially as I'm grieving the loss of my Mother, I found myself understanding the grief a young boy might have if he lost his mother at such a young age. I also enjoyed the twists and turns of the story and marvel at how Connolly has made his own new fairytale out of a mixture of old fairytales. I highly recommend this book to most anyone, but especially those who are fans of magical realism, fairytales, and coming of age stories.more
This one of those books that I kept imagining page by page would get better. The story is about a young boy, David, who loses his mother to an unknown sickness; and happens early on. This part of the book was well written and I could relate to his creation of rituals to try and make things right. All of us have rituals and beliefs of some sort which make the fear of the unknown more palatable. I felt for him and liked him even more because his vulnerability shone through.

After David's mother is gone, his father falls in love with Rose. Eventually they have a baby together who David strongly resents. At the same time David begins to experience 'attacks' where he blacks out and hears books speaking. One night he hears an airplane outside and goes to explore, he hides in a garden wall crack and is transported to a fairy tale world.

Initially I was excited about this turn in the story and loved some parts ie. Snow White and the communist 7 dwarfs; the downside is that the fairy world is very, very dark. I am ok with some darkness but I felt like parts of the novel were just horrible for no real reason. Shocking just for the sake of it. There is a Crooked Man who is exceptionally evil. You would expect the good guys to win sometimes but not so much here. I kept expecting some twist: his mother was really alive, the lost children would be found, his stepmother was really behind it all, but no, nothing good comes of the promising initial storyline.

Ultimately David has to find the King in order to go back home. His path there and the insight into the Crooked Man turned me off from the story. I didn't think that the sexually perverse tones and extreme violence in some sections added to the book in any way. Actually, the book gave me some nightmares. It was disturbing stuff. Not my cup of tea at all.more
I really want this to list as 4.5 stars. I really, really liked it. It's very dark, more in keeping with the original stories told by the Brothers Grimm, but maybe that's what makes the ending so satisfying.more
The Book of Lost Things is a fractured fairy tale in the style of "Pan's Labyrinth". Though the story is based on fairy tales (largely The Brother's Grimm), it is not a children's story. The story is about a young boy named David living in WWII era England who can talk to books. After an explosive fight with his stepmother, he finds himself in a story book land (similar to Dorothy going over the rainbow or Alice going through the Looking Glass). The rest of the book is his quest to get to the King and find a way home. Through different trials, David comes to a sort of selfawareness. My only complaint was that the ending came a bit abruptly, as if Connelly had gotten his characters to a particular point and couldn't figure out exactly what to do with them. If you like fairy tales, it's especially fun to see if you can find which fairy tales Connelly has used and how he twisted them (in one version of the paperback, there is an appendix with the stories in their original forms).more
I didn't read the jacket of the book prior to reading this so I didn't expect this story to be so dark and disturbing as it was. This goes back to the original Brothers Grimm fairytales, not the ones with happily ever after. The story is written in deceptively simple language, but its contents are deep and even disgusting. Definitely, not for the faint of heart. However, underneath all the disturbing material there is a beautiful coming of age story with moments of strength and resilience.more
This is easily one of the best books I've ever read. It's just fucking genius. The writing was phenomenal.

David, a 12 year old boy who loves his books, loses his mother. He gets lost in the world that's slowly evolving around him - there's a great war going on, his father is moving on with his life, and, well he's an angry 12 year old boy. His mother has been taken from him, a usurper is trying to take her place, and he's being replaced with a half sibling. This book is largely about his grief and loss and coming to terms with them.

In the middle of all of this he falls into a fantasy world that is a world made by the minds of those that have come before him, and to some sense, himself. The stories he grew up reading are real, and they're ugly. All of those dark fairy tales (that are all dark if you ignore the Disneyfication) are made even darker, and it's absolutely delicious. There's sex, death, child abuse, torture, power grabs, communist collectives, gluttony... Everything that makes those old folk tales scary... and awesome.

Connolly does a great job of writing a distraught child, that I can personally feel for. David loses his mother at 12. I lost my mother at 11. David's father (in a few months) starts seeing someone who was involved in her caretaking. My father also married one of my dead mother's caretakers. David is bitter and angry and lost at life and having a hard time finding his way, and it was written as real as I remember it being for me. Through the heartbreaking journey, either I sympathized with David too much and got sucked in, or Connolly just wrote it damn well, and it was easy to be sucked in.

The fantasy land was fantastic. It was dark, and it was dangerous. And through it, David grew up, not too much, but enough. There are hints at things just beyond his knowledge that he can't (or won't quite) recognize, but in the end he became a better person for what he went through. He learns he can understands and can accept life's changes.

I love re-imagined fairy/folk tales, and this is easy one of my more favorite books with that element. The blending of the dark tales and the coming of age was wonderful. Definitely not a kid's book, but definitely awesome.more
A curious attempt at young adult fantasy. Plenty of readers will disagree, but I think the author struggles to find an authentic voice. The scene with Snow White reads like a Paul Jennings or R.L. Stine episode for pre-teens; the description of Roland's sexuality has an older audience in mind, though it lacks conviction. A few other passages are a little coy, and sophisticated YA readers are likely to feel as though the author is talking down to them. There is plenty of gore and horror, and much of this is cleverly pitched at that level of consciousness that makes it seem part of a half-remembered dream - and as such, may be too unsettling for pre-teen readers.

I found the plot too predictable, and worse, the solutions to the many of the crisis points seemed rather contrived.more
I absolutely loved this book. It starts off slowly, but as soon as David enters the fairytale realm, things pick up with astounding (and horrifying) speed. I don't want to spoil the book at all, so I'll just say that it is amazing, absolutely captivating and beautiful and sad, and I am going to push it on everyone I know.more
One day Narnia walked into a bar. Now, please understand that this was quite out of character for her as she rarely frequented this type of establishment without appropriate accompaniment or attire. But, times being what they were, and still reeling from a string of bad cinematic relationships, she walked in, found a lonely seat and the bar and settled in.

Several shots and a few emotional chasers later, Labyrinth walked in dressed quite like David Bowie sans the glam. Looking quite dapper, he sat down across from Narnia. Narnia, now quite intoxicated, was susceptible to his Bowie-esque charm. A brief but tumultuous courtship ensued. Largely due to Narnia's Christian upbringing and distrust in the birth control methods of the day, she soon found herself well with child and thus nine months later, The Book of Lost Things was born.

Book of Lost Things = Narnia Labyrinth / Several Shots of Faerie Tale.

It was also rather scandalous when it was released that Narnia had a longstanding affair with The Never-Ending Story so the patronage of Lost is questioned. Also Labyrinth was a well-known as a lover of the lads as well as the ladies in some circles so it is quite possible that some sort of lurid threesome took place.more
This is a very well written book. Its intricate and clever and its not just an intellectual exercise, there's strong emotional content, all in a sort of dark gothic grotesquerie full of dream logic and strangeness. The use of fairy tales and the way they are taken back to their Grimm (and grim) roots works very well. I do sometimes feel lost in an unforgiving Germanic winter landscape. It was an excellent choice to read in the month of Halloween.

So, I hear you asking, why only three stars? Because for me, and this is a very personal reaction, it never took off and became magical or dreamlike. Which, for a book about magic and dreams is kind of a problem. The elements are there, and your mileage may vary, in fact if you look at other reviews you can see that clearly it does vary.

At some point in any book there's a moment where I decide (or don't)to let go and throw myself into the story. Almost a mental pause where I think okay, here we go, and I fling myself into the next wave and let it carry me out into the unknown sea of the rest of the story. In this book, for me, that moment never arrived.

PS: For those who see fairy tales in the description, please note, this is NOT a children's book. Do not give it to kids of your accquaintance unless you know ahead of time they like things very dark and adult.more
I want to give this only three stars, but in my heart I know it deserves four. It's not the book's fault that I had an audio version in a spiffy new technology (Playaways; similar to an MP3 player with only one book on it) that had really tinny sound.

Mostly I liked it, but I did think it dragged a little in spots--slow to get going, too much time spent with the seven dwarves, and goodness how I hate that typical ending, which halfway through the book I was praying they wouldn't use. It's a variant on the theme, but it's a theme that's been done to death.

The end of the audio suggested that, if I enjoyed this book, I might try The Stolen Child, which I read a few weeks ago and really liked, so at least they were spot-on with that one.more
A book that had so much potential and failed to live up to it. It was an OK book... the creatures are kind of disturbing and they definitely try too hard on trying to do twists on common fairy tales. It's also pretty predictable. I think the book tries too hard to be too many different things.more
The Book of Lost Things is a compelling coming of age story. The protagonist, David, must confront the loss of his mother, his anger over his father's remarriage, and his jealousy over the birth of his half-brother. He enters a fairy tale world, reminiscent of George MacDonald's works, and embarks on a knowledge journey where he must make decisions that will effect the lives of everyone he knows and loves.more
This story is about a child named David, whose mother has just passed away, and whose father has remarried and had a new child. David takes the whole situation very hard and starts to have episodes of blacking out. During these episodes David dreams of another world and a Crooked Man, and after the episodes start the books around David start to talk. One day after a particularly bad fight with his new step mom David follows the voice of his dead mother through a hole in the garden wall, and falls out of a tree to find himself in a strange other world. Behind David the hole to his world closes and David finds himself stuck in a dangerous world that seems to be home to living altered fairytales, and where his fears seem to come into being. From there the story is about David growing up, facing his fears, and finding the king, and subsequently finding his way home. The beginning of this book is fairly slow but once David enters the other world the action speeds up dramatically. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who doesn't like books with slow beginnings and gives up on them. If you can get past the slow beginning I would recommend this book though because it's a very imaginative tale of growing up. I would especially recommend this book to anyone who likes reinvented fairytales and adventures. Brittany B.more
Is it wrong that my reading was severely impeded by the reader's guide at the end of the book?

The story itself was fine, although it was way too derivative. Reading it, I could almost visualize the pitch meeting, with Connolly explaining that the book would be like the Narnia books and Grimm's fairy tales ... but darker!

And the added darkness worked. The Book of Lost Things, despite being predictable, was a good read, with an interesting story and a few moments of genius.

And then there's the reader's guide. I feel stupid harping on this, but Mr. Connolly (or perhaps his publishers) seems to think that his novel was a lot more opaque than it actually was. But his use and alteration of existing stories was not nearly interesting enough to earn him the opportunity to pull back the curtain and demonstrate the inner workings of his plot. There was no curtain.more
When I finish a book, I'm hoping for some level of satisfaction. That is not what I found here. Instead, I was disappointed, and it took several days for me to figure out precisely why.This book seems to have been built like Frankenstein's monster, out of the reanimated pieces of other books. Tonal shifts are sudden and frequent--from an excellent depiction of a young man dealing with changes brought to his life by war, and death, and his father's new wife, we switch abruptly into a Fairy Tale World. Sometimes this place is dark and scary, sometimes it reads like a cut scene from Shrek, and at one point could have been lifted straight from "The Labyrinth." Each of these stories are good enough in their way, but when combined together with precious little transition, the mixture becomes too rich. It was like a steak covered in ice cream, like beer mixed with wine.And that is my frustration with this story. It was made up of good things. The writing was perfectly serviceable, and many of the themes were important ones, worthy of their vivid portrayal. But the combination was not euphonious.Recommendation: Boys will probably like this, although they're likely to skip the "boring" early parts and spend more time on the blood and gore, or the vivid description of physical and emotional tortures. I would only recommend it to mature kids, and only then after they had read far better books first.more
I was blown away by The Book of Lost Things - though it seems to have been marketed as a young adult novel (the library copy I read was labeled as "juvenile fiction") it has a great deal of depth, some truly startling horror elements and a beautifully sombre tone. Set in England during World War II, the main character, David, is a twelve-year old boy, grieving for his mother, who died of illness, and struggling to handle his father's remarriage to a woman named Rose, and his new half-brother, the baby Georgie. David is jealous and lonely, and he begins to hear voices whispering from the books in his bedroom - a bedroom that once belonged to a little boy named Jonathan, who disappeared decades earlier. One night, David hears his mother's voice calling to him from the sunken garden and follows her out into the night . . . David stumbles into the world of fairy tales, but the king has lost control of his land and the creatures and stories here are twisted and dark. Wolves are amassing in an army, led by half-man, half-wolf beasts, the products of a union between a human woman in a red cloak and an animal. A huntress creates tortured creatures with the bodies of animals and the heads of children to chase through the wood. A huge underground monster terrorizes a village, and has slaughtered all of the king's men sent to fight it. And through it all, David is being stalked by the Crooked Man, a sinister figure obsessed with children. David finds noble allies in the Woodsman, who guides him in the beginning and sends him on his way to find the king and his "Book of Lost Things," and in Roland, a knight who has set out to learn the fate of his lover, Raphael. Over the course of his journey, David grows and matures. It is a coming-of-age story, and an excellent high fantasy / horror story with a truly disturbing evil in the Crooked Man.more
Quite possibly the best book I've read this year. An original take on traditional fairy tales. Parts of the story were a lot darker and more violent than perhaps I had expected. There are themes including death, coming of age, Naziism, paedophilia and homosexuality all entwined in the adventures of a young boy lost and far from home. Fantastic.more
Think of Hemingway writing a fairy tale, and add the bluntness of Koontz or King. Sparsity of description, vagueness of color in the land of Faerie, which, by necessity must be vague. The novel is an amazing addition to Ende's Neverending Story or King's Eyes of the Dragon. Perhaps the most intriguing parts of the book are the stories in which Connolly takes the original Grimm or Andersen fairy tales, or tales from mythology, and twists them into horrible, although strangely realistic, tales that, for some reason, fascinate David, the protagonist. The coming of age tale, the Bildungsroman, also blends into this novel, recalling Tolkien's Hobbit or many of Orson Scott Card's works. You feel sympathetic or repulsed by each character in the tale, and this is significant, because Connolly uses little description or dialogue by which to establish reader emotions. You identify with the characters because of a priori knowledge, or in other words, the characters are real because we have encountered them many times before, in stories and in our own real lives. The Crooked Man could be Mephistopheles, or Satan, or Rumpelstiltskin, or the villain of King's The Stand. There are characters representing the stepmother, the oppressed worker, the hopeless Romantic, the societal outcast, etc... amazing story-writing, and I agree with him in one the interviews he gave on his web site that this should be a stand alone book, without sequels, because it is one story among many in the land of Faerie, and that David's story is told to the fullest, and needs no follow up. I read this book right after HP7, and it was the perfect "rebound" book, as it were, with no "series commitment" to be made, but a deep and thought-provoking novel that kept it from falling flat after J.K. Rowling's tome.more
David is twelve when his mother dies, around the outset of World War II, and when his father starts seeing another woman, he retreats further and further into the world of books he and his mother shared. Soon the lines between the two worlds begin to blur, and David is pulled into a mysterious fairy tale world. I found this instantly charming, engaging, well-told, and extremely moving. I particularly liked the bits where David hears the voices of books – each with their own distinct personalities. I enjoyed the comments on the nature and purpose of stories, and the novel retellings of fairy stories scattered throughout the story. A very good read – bleaker than I was expecting, but perhaps all the more powerful because of this ...more
A book about books....about growing up...about imagination and fears...I loved it! This just confirms that I need to pick up every John Connolly book I can get my hands on. David is jealous of a new baby in the house after his mother dies and his father begins a new life with another woman. The books in his new bedroom are whispering to each other and him....one in particular that has fairy tales piques his interest. Then he follows the sound of his dead mother's voice, right into another land....his adventure to try to get back home takes him through this new land, meeting many interesting characters. To say more would give away too much. The language and imagination in the book is worth the read. Yes, it is a bit gruesome here and there, but well worth it.more
An interesting and one-on-one take of many popular fairy tales, all woven into an imaginative and capturing story. Highly recommended.more
12-year-old David mourns his dead mother, resents his new stepmother and baby half-brother, and suddenly finds that books have begun whispering to him. One night he journeys to a strange land, a land of fairy tales and dreams. But these aren't your modern, Disney-fied fairy tales. These are the old cautionary fables, full of monsters and violence. I spent much of the first part of this book wondering why it hadn't been made into a movie, but once David enters the other land, there is more than a little bit of disturbing, violent imagery. Even so, it's a captivating story, full of classic motifs and new characters, scary monsters and thrilling adventure. Not one I'll soon forget.more
Beautifully written a fantasy within horrid times. One of my favourites.more
At the onset of WWII in London, twelve year old David mourns for the loss of his mother. To David's shock his father remarries just months after his wife's death and quickly David's stepmother gives birth to his half brother, Georgie. Grieved by the loss of his mother, enraged by the seeming betrayel of his father and unable to come to terms with stepmother Rose or brother Georgie, David sinks into anger and depression. David's world changes yet again as his books start to talk to him. David falls down the rabbit hole, so to speak, and enters a world where fairy tales have come to life. Traveling along a road to meet the King, who possess the fabled Book of Lost Things in the hopes of returning home, David meets heros, monsters and a variety of other strange characters. Pursed by an army of wolves David makes the hardest journey of all, from childhood to adulthood. He learns there are no easy answers, that the villians in his life possibly aren't as bad as they seem and that he just might be the hero to his own story.more
The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly, is the story of David, a boy who has just lost his mother and gained a new step-mother and half-brother during WWII era London. When he begins to hear the voice of his deceased mother calling to him from a gap in a recessed garden, he follows her voice and the hope that he can save her, and restore the family he once had, by passing from his world into one filled with its own set of terrors.To be honest, I was more interested in the origins and contexts of the fairy tales themselves, found at the end of my edition, rather than the story itself. However, reading how Connolly incorporated and revised the stories so that they flowed within David's story made me more appreciative of the book as a whole.David's story is interesting, and the characters that he meets are well-fleshed and entertaining. I enjoyed the re-tellings of familiar fairy tales (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a particular favorite, and the most light-hearted). I found the tale compelling enough to keep me reading, but it didn't keep me on the edge of my seat. And until I read the notes at the back of the book, I didn't fully appreciate what Connolly had done.So, while this is a story that can be enjoyed on its own, I highly recommend buying a version that contains the notes at the end (entitled "Of Fairy Tales, Dark Towers, and Other Such Matters") to tie everything together and give the story more depth.more
An excellent coming of age story, brimming with fairy tale retellings and references, appealing to the story-hungry child dorment within most of us. The narrative flows very well, and the little truths and nods to the pains and responsibilities of adulthood lie neatly in-between mythical allusions and truly gruesome Grimm-style folklore. A true fairytale in its own right. A highly recommended read.more
The Book of Lost Things was a mixed bag. I really liked the concept ("stories come alive with the telling" seemed to be the central theme, as a child is pulled into the world of his collections of fairy tales and myths after his mother dies and father remarries) and the twisted revisions of fairy tales were intriguing, but the narrative just wasn't as successful as it could've been. Connolly started relying on point-of-view shifts to the villains by midway through the book to create tension, which just wound up being clumsy and making the ending far too obvious. I'd still recommend this book to anyone interested in Gregory Maguire-esque fairy tale rewrites, and I'd pick up another Connolly novel myself maybe two or three down the line from this one.more
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Reviews

I really enjoyed The Book of Lost Things. I was worried I wouldn't, as I'd heard opinions both ways, but I did like it. I thought that some of the descriptions were just spot on, from the very start --

He had, in truth, been losing [his mother] for a very long time. The disease that was killing her was a creeping, cowardly thing, a sickness that ate away at her from the inside, slowly consuming the light within so that her eyes grew a little less bright with each passing day, and her skin a little more pale.

After all, I just watched someone die like that. And that is how it is: something is lost every day. The first day I visited my grandfather in hospital, he smiled at me and tried to reassure me that he would be alright soon. The next time I visited him, I was the only person he recognised -- or at least, the only one he responded to (he still tried to smile at me, especially when I told him I was making Grandma a cup of tea). Then the next day, he couldn't see us at all, and all he could say was "I don't understand". And then the next day he took one long last breath and died. So yes, that's the way it goes: illness eats a person up from the inside, stealing them piece by piece, day by day.

Maybe it was that first bit and how it struck me as just right, and the fact that I'm grieving now, that got me so invested in the story. In a way, I expected all of it: it's basically the same story as the first Malory Towers book, or even Edmund and Lucy from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Sibling jealousies and conflicts. The rewritings of fairytales weren't all that surprising to me, immersed as I am in fairytale retellings. But something about the turn of phrase was just right, and I fell in love with the quiet love story of Roland and Raphael, as well.

There's a lot of violence and ugliness in this book, and sometimes that doesn't read very well. I read reviews of this that felt the retellings were quite female-positive, but it didn't feel that way to me. There're powerful women in the story, but their sexuality is almost part of the horror. It's the homosexual relationship between Raphael and Roland, with one of them safely off-screen, which is idealised, and the homosocial relationships between Roland and David, or David and his father, or David and the Woodsman. The more I think about that the more uncomfortable I feel -- though Anna is free of that disturbing power (but then, she's a perpetual child), and so is David's mother (although the bit with kissing her corpse could ring a little oddly, and her coaxing voice leading him astray, and the whole dead Madonna thing she has going on). David's step-mother is maybe the most positive: he sees her negatively, but comes to understand her better and try harder to get along with her.

Anyway, those points didn't stop me enjoying the story quite a lot, but it's worth thinking about.

Oh, and after reading other reviews and so on, I decided to skip the 150 pages of analysis that Connolly includes. I'm aware of pretty much all the fairytales mentioned, so I don't need the background, and I preferred on reflection to let the story stand alone. I'm a postgrad lit student, I don't need Connolly to do the work for me...more
A coming-of-age tale centered upon young David, who has lost his mother and resents his new stepmother and baby brother. Trying to escape his circumstances, David stumbles into an eerie fairy tale world of knights and beasts much like those in the stories his mother used to recount. David sets out on a quest to find the king, whose Book of Lost Things holds the secret to his return home and, David hopes, perhaps even to his mother’s return to life. Reminiscent at times of Lewis’s Narnia, at others of the Brothers Grimm, The Book of Lost Things will resonate with those who still believe in the magic of childhood.more
Really enjoyed this one, especially as I'm grieving the loss of my Mother, I found myself understanding the grief a young boy might have if he lost his mother at such a young age. I also enjoyed the twists and turns of the story and marvel at how Connolly has made his own new fairytale out of a mixture of old fairytales. I highly recommend this book to most anyone, but especially those who are fans of magical realism, fairytales, and coming of age stories.more
This one of those books that I kept imagining page by page would get better. The story is about a young boy, David, who loses his mother to an unknown sickness; and happens early on. This part of the book was well written and I could relate to his creation of rituals to try and make things right. All of us have rituals and beliefs of some sort which make the fear of the unknown more palatable. I felt for him and liked him even more because his vulnerability shone through.

After David's mother is gone, his father falls in love with Rose. Eventually they have a baby together who David strongly resents. At the same time David begins to experience 'attacks' where he blacks out and hears books speaking. One night he hears an airplane outside and goes to explore, he hides in a garden wall crack and is transported to a fairy tale world.

Initially I was excited about this turn in the story and loved some parts ie. Snow White and the communist 7 dwarfs; the downside is that the fairy world is very, very dark. I am ok with some darkness but I felt like parts of the novel were just horrible for no real reason. Shocking just for the sake of it. There is a Crooked Man who is exceptionally evil. You would expect the good guys to win sometimes but not so much here. I kept expecting some twist: his mother was really alive, the lost children would be found, his stepmother was really behind it all, but no, nothing good comes of the promising initial storyline.

Ultimately David has to find the King in order to go back home. His path there and the insight into the Crooked Man turned me off from the story. I didn't think that the sexually perverse tones and extreme violence in some sections added to the book in any way. Actually, the book gave me some nightmares. It was disturbing stuff. Not my cup of tea at all.more
I really want this to list as 4.5 stars. I really, really liked it. It's very dark, more in keeping with the original stories told by the Brothers Grimm, but maybe that's what makes the ending so satisfying.more
The Book of Lost Things is a fractured fairy tale in the style of "Pan's Labyrinth". Though the story is based on fairy tales (largely The Brother's Grimm), it is not a children's story. The story is about a young boy named David living in WWII era England who can talk to books. After an explosive fight with his stepmother, he finds himself in a story book land (similar to Dorothy going over the rainbow or Alice going through the Looking Glass). The rest of the book is his quest to get to the King and find a way home. Through different trials, David comes to a sort of selfawareness. My only complaint was that the ending came a bit abruptly, as if Connelly had gotten his characters to a particular point and couldn't figure out exactly what to do with them. If you like fairy tales, it's especially fun to see if you can find which fairy tales Connelly has used and how he twisted them (in one version of the paperback, there is an appendix with the stories in their original forms).more
I didn't read the jacket of the book prior to reading this so I didn't expect this story to be so dark and disturbing as it was. This goes back to the original Brothers Grimm fairytales, not the ones with happily ever after. The story is written in deceptively simple language, but its contents are deep and even disgusting. Definitely, not for the faint of heart. However, underneath all the disturbing material there is a beautiful coming of age story with moments of strength and resilience.more
This is easily one of the best books I've ever read. It's just fucking genius. The writing was phenomenal.

David, a 12 year old boy who loves his books, loses his mother. He gets lost in the world that's slowly evolving around him - there's a great war going on, his father is moving on with his life, and, well he's an angry 12 year old boy. His mother has been taken from him, a usurper is trying to take her place, and he's being replaced with a half sibling. This book is largely about his grief and loss and coming to terms with them.

In the middle of all of this he falls into a fantasy world that is a world made by the minds of those that have come before him, and to some sense, himself. The stories he grew up reading are real, and they're ugly. All of those dark fairy tales (that are all dark if you ignore the Disneyfication) are made even darker, and it's absolutely delicious. There's sex, death, child abuse, torture, power grabs, communist collectives, gluttony... Everything that makes those old folk tales scary... and awesome.

Connolly does a great job of writing a distraught child, that I can personally feel for. David loses his mother at 12. I lost my mother at 11. David's father (in a few months) starts seeing someone who was involved in her caretaking. My father also married one of my dead mother's caretakers. David is bitter and angry and lost at life and having a hard time finding his way, and it was written as real as I remember it being for me. Through the heartbreaking journey, either I sympathized with David too much and got sucked in, or Connolly just wrote it damn well, and it was easy to be sucked in.

The fantasy land was fantastic. It was dark, and it was dangerous. And through it, David grew up, not too much, but enough. There are hints at things just beyond his knowledge that he can't (or won't quite) recognize, but in the end he became a better person for what he went through. He learns he can understands and can accept life's changes.

I love re-imagined fairy/folk tales, and this is easy one of my more favorite books with that element. The blending of the dark tales and the coming of age was wonderful. Definitely not a kid's book, but definitely awesome.more
A curious attempt at young adult fantasy. Plenty of readers will disagree, but I think the author struggles to find an authentic voice. The scene with Snow White reads like a Paul Jennings or R.L. Stine episode for pre-teens; the description of Roland's sexuality has an older audience in mind, though it lacks conviction. A few other passages are a little coy, and sophisticated YA readers are likely to feel as though the author is talking down to them. There is plenty of gore and horror, and much of this is cleverly pitched at that level of consciousness that makes it seem part of a half-remembered dream - and as such, may be too unsettling for pre-teen readers.

I found the plot too predictable, and worse, the solutions to the many of the crisis points seemed rather contrived.more
I absolutely loved this book. It starts off slowly, but as soon as David enters the fairytale realm, things pick up with astounding (and horrifying) speed. I don't want to spoil the book at all, so I'll just say that it is amazing, absolutely captivating and beautiful and sad, and I am going to push it on everyone I know.more
One day Narnia walked into a bar. Now, please understand that this was quite out of character for her as she rarely frequented this type of establishment without appropriate accompaniment or attire. But, times being what they were, and still reeling from a string of bad cinematic relationships, she walked in, found a lonely seat and the bar and settled in.

Several shots and a few emotional chasers later, Labyrinth walked in dressed quite like David Bowie sans the glam. Looking quite dapper, he sat down across from Narnia. Narnia, now quite intoxicated, was susceptible to his Bowie-esque charm. A brief but tumultuous courtship ensued. Largely due to Narnia's Christian upbringing and distrust in the birth control methods of the day, she soon found herself well with child and thus nine months later, The Book of Lost Things was born.

Book of Lost Things = Narnia Labyrinth / Several Shots of Faerie Tale.

It was also rather scandalous when it was released that Narnia had a longstanding affair with The Never-Ending Story so the patronage of Lost is questioned. Also Labyrinth was a well-known as a lover of the lads as well as the ladies in some circles so it is quite possible that some sort of lurid threesome took place.more
This is a very well written book. Its intricate and clever and its not just an intellectual exercise, there's strong emotional content, all in a sort of dark gothic grotesquerie full of dream logic and strangeness. The use of fairy tales and the way they are taken back to their Grimm (and grim) roots works very well. I do sometimes feel lost in an unforgiving Germanic winter landscape. It was an excellent choice to read in the month of Halloween.

So, I hear you asking, why only three stars? Because for me, and this is a very personal reaction, it never took off and became magical or dreamlike. Which, for a book about magic and dreams is kind of a problem. The elements are there, and your mileage may vary, in fact if you look at other reviews you can see that clearly it does vary.

At some point in any book there's a moment where I decide (or don't)to let go and throw myself into the story. Almost a mental pause where I think okay, here we go, and I fling myself into the next wave and let it carry me out into the unknown sea of the rest of the story. In this book, for me, that moment never arrived.

PS: For those who see fairy tales in the description, please note, this is NOT a children's book. Do not give it to kids of your accquaintance unless you know ahead of time they like things very dark and adult.more
I want to give this only three stars, but in my heart I know it deserves four. It's not the book's fault that I had an audio version in a spiffy new technology (Playaways; similar to an MP3 player with only one book on it) that had really tinny sound.

Mostly I liked it, but I did think it dragged a little in spots--slow to get going, too much time spent with the seven dwarves, and goodness how I hate that typical ending, which halfway through the book I was praying they wouldn't use. It's a variant on the theme, but it's a theme that's been done to death.

The end of the audio suggested that, if I enjoyed this book, I might try The Stolen Child, which I read a few weeks ago and really liked, so at least they were spot-on with that one.more
A book that had so much potential and failed to live up to it. It was an OK book... the creatures are kind of disturbing and they definitely try too hard on trying to do twists on common fairy tales. It's also pretty predictable. I think the book tries too hard to be too many different things.more
The Book of Lost Things is a compelling coming of age story. The protagonist, David, must confront the loss of his mother, his anger over his father's remarriage, and his jealousy over the birth of his half-brother. He enters a fairy tale world, reminiscent of George MacDonald's works, and embarks on a knowledge journey where he must make decisions that will effect the lives of everyone he knows and loves.more
This story is about a child named David, whose mother has just passed away, and whose father has remarried and had a new child. David takes the whole situation very hard and starts to have episodes of blacking out. During these episodes David dreams of another world and a Crooked Man, and after the episodes start the books around David start to talk. One day after a particularly bad fight with his new step mom David follows the voice of his dead mother through a hole in the garden wall, and falls out of a tree to find himself in a strange other world. Behind David the hole to his world closes and David finds himself stuck in a dangerous world that seems to be home to living altered fairytales, and where his fears seem to come into being. From there the story is about David growing up, facing his fears, and finding the king, and subsequently finding his way home. The beginning of this book is fairly slow but once David enters the other world the action speeds up dramatically. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who doesn't like books with slow beginnings and gives up on them. If you can get past the slow beginning I would recommend this book though because it's a very imaginative tale of growing up. I would especially recommend this book to anyone who likes reinvented fairytales and adventures. Brittany B.more
Is it wrong that my reading was severely impeded by the reader's guide at the end of the book?

The story itself was fine, although it was way too derivative. Reading it, I could almost visualize the pitch meeting, with Connolly explaining that the book would be like the Narnia books and Grimm's fairy tales ... but darker!

And the added darkness worked. The Book of Lost Things, despite being predictable, was a good read, with an interesting story and a few moments of genius.

And then there's the reader's guide. I feel stupid harping on this, but Mr. Connolly (or perhaps his publishers) seems to think that his novel was a lot more opaque than it actually was. But his use and alteration of existing stories was not nearly interesting enough to earn him the opportunity to pull back the curtain and demonstrate the inner workings of his plot. There was no curtain.more
When I finish a book, I'm hoping for some level of satisfaction. That is not what I found here. Instead, I was disappointed, and it took several days for me to figure out precisely why.This book seems to have been built like Frankenstein's monster, out of the reanimated pieces of other books. Tonal shifts are sudden and frequent--from an excellent depiction of a young man dealing with changes brought to his life by war, and death, and his father's new wife, we switch abruptly into a Fairy Tale World. Sometimes this place is dark and scary, sometimes it reads like a cut scene from Shrek, and at one point could have been lifted straight from "The Labyrinth." Each of these stories are good enough in their way, but when combined together with precious little transition, the mixture becomes too rich. It was like a steak covered in ice cream, like beer mixed with wine.And that is my frustration with this story. It was made up of good things. The writing was perfectly serviceable, and many of the themes were important ones, worthy of their vivid portrayal. But the combination was not euphonious.Recommendation: Boys will probably like this, although they're likely to skip the "boring" early parts and spend more time on the blood and gore, or the vivid description of physical and emotional tortures. I would only recommend it to mature kids, and only then after they had read far better books first.more
I was blown away by The Book of Lost Things - though it seems to have been marketed as a young adult novel (the library copy I read was labeled as "juvenile fiction") it has a great deal of depth, some truly startling horror elements and a beautifully sombre tone. Set in England during World War II, the main character, David, is a twelve-year old boy, grieving for his mother, who died of illness, and struggling to handle his father's remarriage to a woman named Rose, and his new half-brother, the baby Georgie. David is jealous and lonely, and he begins to hear voices whispering from the books in his bedroom - a bedroom that once belonged to a little boy named Jonathan, who disappeared decades earlier. One night, David hears his mother's voice calling to him from the sunken garden and follows her out into the night . . . David stumbles into the world of fairy tales, but the king has lost control of his land and the creatures and stories here are twisted and dark. Wolves are amassing in an army, led by half-man, half-wolf beasts, the products of a union between a human woman in a red cloak and an animal. A huntress creates tortured creatures with the bodies of animals and the heads of children to chase through the wood. A huge underground monster terrorizes a village, and has slaughtered all of the king's men sent to fight it. And through it all, David is being stalked by the Crooked Man, a sinister figure obsessed with children. David finds noble allies in the Woodsman, who guides him in the beginning and sends him on his way to find the king and his "Book of Lost Things," and in Roland, a knight who has set out to learn the fate of his lover, Raphael. Over the course of his journey, David grows and matures. It is a coming-of-age story, and an excellent high fantasy / horror story with a truly disturbing evil in the Crooked Man.more
Quite possibly the best book I've read this year. An original take on traditional fairy tales. Parts of the story were a lot darker and more violent than perhaps I had expected. There are themes including death, coming of age, Naziism, paedophilia and homosexuality all entwined in the adventures of a young boy lost and far from home. Fantastic.more
Think of Hemingway writing a fairy tale, and add the bluntness of Koontz or King. Sparsity of description, vagueness of color in the land of Faerie, which, by necessity must be vague. The novel is an amazing addition to Ende's Neverending Story or King's Eyes of the Dragon. Perhaps the most intriguing parts of the book are the stories in which Connolly takes the original Grimm or Andersen fairy tales, or tales from mythology, and twists them into horrible, although strangely realistic, tales that, for some reason, fascinate David, the protagonist. The coming of age tale, the Bildungsroman, also blends into this novel, recalling Tolkien's Hobbit or many of Orson Scott Card's works. You feel sympathetic or repulsed by each character in the tale, and this is significant, because Connolly uses little description or dialogue by which to establish reader emotions. You identify with the characters because of a priori knowledge, or in other words, the characters are real because we have encountered them many times before, in stories and in our own real lives. The Crooked Man could be Mephistopheles, or Satan, or Rumpelstiltskin, or the villain of King's The Stand. There are characters representing the stepmother, the oppressed worker, the hopeless Romantic, the societal outcast, etc... amazing story-writing, and I agree with him in one the interviews he gave on his web site that this should be a stand alone book, without sequels, because it is one story among many in the land of Faerie, and that David's story is told to the fullest, and needs no follow up. I read this book right after HP7, and it was the perfect "rebound" book, as it were, with no "series commitment" to be made, but a deep and thought-provoking novel that kept it from falling flat after J.K. Rowling's tome.more
David is twelve when his mother dies, around the outset of World War II, and when his father starts seeing another woman, he retreats further and further into the world of books he and his mother shared. Soon the lines between the two worlds begin to blur, and David is pulled into a mysterious fairy tale world. I found this instantly charming, engaging, well-told, and extremely moving. I particularly liked the bits where David hears the voices of books – each with their own distinct personalities. I enjoyed the comments on the nature and purpose of stories, and the novel retellings of fairy stories scattered throughout the story. A very good read – bleaker than I was expecting, but perhaps all the more powerful because of this ...more
A book about books....about growing up...about imagination and fears...I loved it! This just confirms that I need to pick up every John Connolly book I can get my hands on. David is jealous of a new baby in the house after his mother dies and his father begins a new life with another woman. The books in his new bedroom are whispering to each other and him....one in particular that has fairy tales piques his interest. Then he follows the sound of his dead mother's voice, right into another land....his adventure to try to get back home takes him through this new land, meeting many interesting characters. To say more would give away too much. The language and imagination in the book is worth the read. Yes, it is a bit gruesome here and there, but well worth it.more
An interesting and one-on-one take of many popular fairy tales, all woven into an imaginative and capturing story. Highly recommended.more
12-year-old David mourns his dead mother, resents his new stepmother and baby half-brother, and suddenly finds that books have begun whispering to him. One night he journeys to a strange land, a land of fairy tales and dreams. But these aren't your modern, Disney-fied fairy tales. These are the old cautionary fables, full of monsters and violence. I spent much of the first part of this book wondering why it hadn't been made into a movie, but once David enters the other land, there is more than a little bit of disturbing, violent imagery. Even so, it's a captivating story, full of classic motifs and new characters, scary monsters and thrilling adventure. Not one I'll soon forget.more
Beautifully written a fantasy within horrid times. One of my favourites.more
At the onset of WWII in London, twelve year old David mourns for the loss of his mother. To David's shock his father remarries just months after his wife's death and quickly David's stepmother gives birth to his half brother, Georgie. Grieved by the loss of his mother, enraged by the seeming betrayel of his father and unable to come to terms with stepmother Rose or brother Georgie, David sinks into anger and depression. David's world changes yet again as his books start to talk to him. David falls down the rabbit hole, so to speak, and enters a world where fairy tales have come to life. Traveling along a road to meet the King, who possess the fabled Book of Lost Things in the hopes of returning home, David meets heros, monsters and a variety of other strange characters. Pursed by an army of wolves David makes the hardest journey of all, from childhood to adulthood. He learns there are no easy answers, that the villians in his life possibly aren't as bad as they seem and that he just might be the hero to his own story.more
The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly, is the story of David, a boy who has just lost his mother and gained a new step-mother and half-brother during WWII era London. When he begins to hear the voice of his deceased mother calling to him from a gap in a recessed garden, he follows her voice and the hope that he can save her, and restore the family he once had, by passing from his world into one filled with its own set of terrors.To be honest, I was more interested in the origins and contexts of the fairy tales themselves, found at the end of my edition, rather than the story itself. However, reading how Connolly incorporated and revised the stories so that they flowed within David's story made me more appreciative of the book as a whole.David's story is interesting, and the characters that he meets are well-fleshed and entertaining. I enjoyed the re-tellings of familiar fairy tales (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a particular favorite, and the most light-hearted). I found the tale compelling enough to keep me reading, but it didn't keep me on the edge of my seat. And until I read the notes at the back of the book, I didn't fully appreciate what Connolly had done.So, while this is a story that can be enjoyed on its own, I highly recommend buying a version that contains the notes at the end (entitled "Of Fairy Tales, Dark Towers, and Other Such Matters") to tie everything together and give the story more depth.more
An excellent coming of age story, brimming with fairy tale retellings and references, appealing to the story-hungry child dorment within most of us. The narrative flows very well, and the little truths and nods to the pains and responsibilities of adulthood lie neatly in-between mythical allusions and truly gruesome Grimm-style folklore. A true fairytale in its own right. A highly recommended read.more
The Book of Lost Things was a mixed bag. I really liked the concept ("stories come alive with the telling" seemed to be the central theme, as a child is pulled into the world of his collections of fairy tales and myths after his mother dies and father remarries) and the twisted revisions of fairy tales were intriguing, but the narrative just wasn't as successful as it could've been. Connolly started relying on point-of-view shifts to the villains by midway through the book to create tension, which just wound up being clumsy and making the ending far too obvious. I'd still recommend this book to anyone interested in Gregory Maguire-esque fairy tale rewrites, and I'd pick up another Connolly novel myself maybe two or three down the line from this one.more
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