The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Ever since twelve-year-old David lost his mother to cancer, the books in his house have become something different from mere bindings of leather and paper.  They speak to him, and only to him, about their stories.  Perhaps this is apt.  The absence of his mother might be what has brought this phenomenon on.   She encouraged the desire of reading in David, and had him believe that all stories wanted to live on in the minds of their readers.

But talking books are a secondary worry.  David blacks out inexplicably, and a menacing figure known as The Crooked Man has begun to haunt his dreams.  David is also dealing with other, more tangible shocks – his father has remarried, and David refuses to get along with his new stepmother.  It is 1939 in London, and the war increasingly becomes a threat.  When the family moves to his stepmother’s ancestral home in the country and she has a baby, David still keeps his distance from her and his new brother.

David’s life changes abruptly when a German bomber crashes into their garden and he is plunged into an alternative world – a place populated by the fantastical creatures of nightmare and his treasured fairy tales.  This new world is a disturbing one – David almost loses his life right away when he meets a pack of wolf-like creatures who have human attributes.  He meets a variety of characters – some noble, some comical, and some just deadly – on his journey to see the king of the land.  Apparently, the king has a magical book that might provide the answers for David to return to his own country. 

The Book of Lost Things is definitely a fairy tale for adults.  There are plenty of gruesome parts to make this one a disturbing read.  Throughout the book, there are retellings of older stories, some of them reworked Grimm’s, with an emphasis on the grim.  Even though this one isn’t really a horror novel, there’s enough scary places in the book to refrain from reading it at night.  Or maybe you should.  The Crooked Man could be just a nightmare away.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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