The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly Reviewed by Marion Deeds

November 7th 2006 by Washington Square Press
339 pages


In the shadow of World War II, twelve-year-old David, half-orphaned by the loss of his mother, tries to fit into his father’s new life with a stepmother and a new baby brother. David has other issues to worry about; books whisper their secrets to him, literally, and now a strange creature, the Crooked Man, has begun visiting him. One night during a strafing by a German plane, David is thrown into another world, a world fighting a losing battle against shadowy forces, and under attack by the Loups, a race of wolfmen. David must reach and aid the king of this country in order to find his way home. Along the way, he meets characters that seem familiar to us at first glance, such as Snow White, but they are revealed to be very different. David struggles to know who to trust.

John Connolly is better known for his dark supernatural thrillers featuring detective Charlie Parker. This book is a departure. Connolly is faithful to the rules of an alternate world story, and to the rules of fairy tales, which feature prominently, but is primarily dealing with grief and loss. The Crooked Man is a powerful villain, and the suspense is real. He needs David to betray his baby brother. David will not do that from choice, but he is a child, capable of being tricked; and the Crooked Man is expert at trickery. The saddest and most suspenseful section is when the Crooked Man manages to drive a wedge between David and the classical hero Roland. Despite the age of the main character, this is not a children’s book. It is a thoughtful look at coming of age, a dark but ultimately hopeful fantasy.

Marion Deeds -

First Reviewed: 24th Oct 2010

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