Thursday, 27 February 2014

Review: The Book of Lost Things

Title: The Book of Lost Things
Author: John Connolly 
Published: 2006
Pages: 336
My Rating: 4.5/5

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

This was another book whose cover I only vaguely recognised when I bought it cheap from a discount bookshop. However, I would have got my money's worth four times over at full price.

The Book of Lost Things is set in WW2 and follows a young boy, named David, whose loss of his mother leads him into a dark fantasy world, one of which you have to speculate whether what he is experiencing is real or something conjured up by his troubled mind. 

The story introduces David through his obsessive rituals(what we call Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This label however, is never mentioned, making it easier to relate to him without assumptions) he does to save his mother once she becomes ill, and the author is able to articulate the thought processes of this illness better than most who suffer from it for years. I found this such an interesting and relate-able part of his character, but was a little disappointed that his rituals are basically forgotten about throughout the course of the book.

The world itself is not so much a dark fantasy world, but more of an anti-fantasy world. It mirrored a lot of traditional fairytale stories in the gruesome ways that are often hidden from children. Some of the situations and people David comes across are downright gruesome, and although David is twelve himself, I wouldn't recommend it to someone of that age. The story also addresses many adult issues not commonly found in traditional tales such as this, making it feel fresh for the type of story it is and appropriate for the time we're living in. 

The main antagonist of the book is a creature called The Crooked Man, a character loosely connected to Rumpelstiltskin. I found his manner disturbing and his abrupt appearances frightening, this making him a wonderful character who suited the tone of the book perfectly.

The story is emotional and covers big issues such as death, sexual orientation, power and betrayal. It is a fairytale story that transcends modern day issues making it both current and classic. It excels in being dark, disturbing, exceptionally interesting, emotional and ultimately hopeful. I would recommend it to anyone wanting something different.