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.