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The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

The Book of Lost Things (original 2008; edition 2011)

by John Connolly (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,9343021,196 (3.96)2 / 483
Mourning the loss of his mother, David finds comfort in the books she left behind. But soon the make-believe world of the books melds with David's reality, and the figments of his imagination become startlingly real. Suddenly, he finds himself in a brutal land populated by trolls, harpies, and werewolf-like creatures. His only hope is to find the king, whose Book of Lost Things could show David the way home.… (more)
Title:The Book of Lost Things
Authors:John Connolly (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2011), 368 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (2008)

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English (298)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  French (2)  All languages (304)
Showing 1-5 of 298 (next | show all)
I don't even know what to say. This book will break your heart, make you shudder in fright, and have you widening your eyes over how Connolly changes up some of our favorite fairy tales and myths. I thought this book was great from beginning to end and I worried throughout about would happen to David (our young protagonist). The book's writing and flow were exceptional though in the end I wanted more. It felt like the book ended too soon.

"The Book of Lost Things" follows a young character named David. David, is 12, and loves to read, just like his mother. His best memories are of them reading side by side without talking. Books talk to David in a way that no one else is able to besides his mother. When David's mother dies his world changes again and he is left angry with only the books whispering to him. One night things change and he finds himself in a world that resembles some of the books that he has read. He comes across friends and foes and travels in order to meet a king of a book that he believes can send him home.

So David. Ah my heart. I was walking beside him as he met the Woodsman, Roland, and the Loups. I felt for him and his anger at losing his mother and how his world kept changing. I even understood the bitterness he had for certain other characters (I won't spoil) too. But in the end, he had a lot of heart and courage. I don't think I have liked a character this much since Lyra Belacqua (see His Dark Materials). We get to see David's character evolve from beginning to end and I thought it was excellently shown.

I have to say that David's father kind of drove me up the wall. Based on context clues we can guess what he was up to during WWII. However, he didn't seem that engaged as a father though you know he loves his son.

The characters that David meets in his journey once he crosses over are memorable. We have the Woodsman who decides he will keep David safe. Then we have Roland, a knight who is off to find out what happened to his friend. We also have the Loups (dangerous half men and half wolves) and the Crooked Man. The leader of the Loups was provided his own POV at times, and I definitely did not pity him until we get to the end. The Crooked Man was devious and I kept racking my brain what fairy tale character he was supposed to represent until we get some clues here and there. Definitely liked how it was set up. We also get some funny looks at "Snow White and the 6 Dwarfs" yeah don't ask what happened to one of them. And we find out more about who Sleeping Beauty really is underneath.

The writing was very good and I loved that the headers of the chapter give you a sense of what was coming next. Connolly manages to get you into David's head and it causes you to recall all of the anger and frustration that you used to feel at your parents when you were young and felt like they just didn't understand you. I thought the flow was great too.

"The boy cast the berries aside as the path behind him vanished forever, and he followed the woman into the house, where a great cauldron bubbled on the fire and a sharp knife lay waiting on the butcher’s block. And he was never seen again."

I maybe went, well next time listen to your sister after this tale was finished. No hints about who this is about.

"He had quite liked the dwarfs. He often had no idea what they were talking about, but for a group of homicidal, class-obsessed small people, they were really rather good fun."

Seriously the dwarfs were a highlight. I laughed a lot. Considering how dark the rest of the book was, I can appreciate that Connolly let a little light in.

The setting of the book starts during WWII in England. When David crosses over I called the place "Not A Storybook Ending" because you randomly kept having tales provided to you about what really happened to certain people like Goldilocks and what it means when tales end with "and so and so was never seen again." Everything definitely has a darker tint to it in this world.

In the end I have to applaud Connolly for having a realistic ending to this book. Considering what came before and what we find out about fairy tales, you can't expect and then they lived "happily ever after." I liked the afterword and the information we got on the fairy tales that were discussed and used as plot points or tales in this book like "Little Red Riding Hood,", "The Water of Life," and others. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
One of those books I'll forever love. I loved the fairytales, loved the entire story, the background info at the end of the book, the cover, everything. ( )
  prettygoodyear | Jun 29, 2020 |
I love fairy tales, and this was an exceptional one, where Connolly took elements of the most popular ones and combined them to create a brilliant story of two worlds, both real, next to each other, separated only by a stone wall. And still, despite the differences that jump to the eye at first, when the surface is scratched, the other, fairy tale world, is no better than the real one.
I did read also the interview with the author, which confirmed some of the thoughts I had while reading (and a gripping read it was!), as well as the final part, where Connolly explains how he did weave the elements of the most popular fairy tales in the story of David. This was so very interesting, as I got a chance to re-read the original tales, sometimes in the main 2 different versions. Myths and fairy tales, wonderful stuff really, and if some of them have got a twist thanks to Mr. Connolly, the better! (just think of Snow White and the 7 dwarfs... is the transformation of the gentle girl into a bitching slob fun?) ( )
  MissYowlYY | Jun 12, 2020 |
Pay close attention to the females characters. I did love his use of fables, though. ( )
  amandanan | Jun 6, 2020 |
4.5. Awesome, but minus half a star because David seemed to lack genre savvy for someone wrapped in books and fairy tales. (Probably one could infer a relationship between childish impetuousness and maturing wisdom in that, but c'mon, you don't leave the road and you don't try eating fairy banquets.)

Lovely language with a fairy tale kind of lyricism to it. I'm half amused, half distracted by the dwarves, though; clever, but completely different tone.

Half expected a maze to be revealed or mentioned at some point, as this tale is kindred spirit to Pan's Labyrinth and The Labyrinth. ( )
  elam11 | May 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 298 (next | show all)
This is an adult novel steeped in children's literature that cannily makes its 1940s junior protagonist credibly ignorant of aspects which the grown-up reader, or any modern kid, will catch at once.

Written in the clear, evocative manner of the best British fairy tales from JM Barrie to CS Lewis, The Book of Lost Things is an engaging, magical, thoughtful read.
added by Stir | editThe Independent, Kim Newman (Sep 25, 2006)
Good ideas, these afterthoughts, every one; but rather than go back and write them in, he sticks them down in the pluperfect and hurries on. The result is less a novel in any genre than a catalogue, a dispiritingly detailed outline for something Connolly might like to write, if he only had the time, or the talent, or a decent editor.
added by Stir | editThe Guardian, Colin Greenland (Sep 22, 2006)

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connolly, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bortolussi, StefanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ryan, RobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught by life. - Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)
Everything you can imagine is real. - Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
This book is dedicated to an adult, Jennifer Ridyard, and to Cameron and Alistair Ridyard, who will be adults too soon. For in every adult dwells the child that was, and in every child lies the adult that will be.
First words
Once upon a time—for that is how all stories should begin—there was a boy who lost his mother.
He would talk to them of stories and books, and explain to them how stories wanted to be told and books wanted to be read, and how everything that they ever needed to know about life and the land of which he wrote, or about any land or realm that they could imagine, was contained in books. And some of the children understood, and some did not.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Boy who hears books talk
is a jerk to his stepmom,
but he learns better.

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