Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Book of Lost Things (2006)

This is a delightfully different book by John Connolly which reintroduces us to many of our favorite fairy tales in a story about a Narnia-style link to another world.

David is twelve years old and lives in London during World War I. His mother succumbs to cancer even after all of the twelve-year old things he can do to keep her alive. In short order his father remarries and David finds himself with a baby brother. One night a German airplane crashes in their backyard and David finds a hole in the garden wall that leads to another world. He meets many new people, many familiar from our childhood fairy tales, in his quest to meet the king and find his way back to London, including a sinister character called the Crooked Man.

By bringing all these characters together, Connolly has given us a new fairy tale. It has all the requisite parts - the "abandoned" boy, the evil stepmother, helpers along the way, evil at every turn. David takes all of the events in stride and rises to the occasion at the end and lives happily ever after, sort of.

There is an additional 120 pages at the end of the story where Connolly gives us versions of the fairy tales he incorporates in the book and their backgrounds. I found this extra stuff very informative and fun, especially since I haven't read fairy tales in many, many years. Connolly says,

One of the themes of The Book of Lost Things is the way in which stories and books feed into one another, in much the same way that I, as a writer, have been influenced by the books that I have read. In that sense, The Book of Lost Things is a narrative constructed not only from the books David has encountered, but also from the books and stories that have influenced me.

I wonder what books have influenced me.

My rating for this book: ++++

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