Fantasy · Review

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

This is the 2nd book I’m reading for my R.I.P. III reading challenge. I chose this book because I’ve had it for some time and haven’t got around to reading it, even though everyone keeps telling me to do so. I received an autographed hardcover copy of this from a sales rep, and I wanted to read it because it was a fantasy story, and it was about books. I put it down again because the historical setting put me off. I picked it up again for the challenge, and I’m so glad I did!
This is the non-review I wrote on my Visual Bookshelf on Facebook: The first time I read this, I actually put it down after a few chapters. The first chapter was interesting, but that interest quickly waned. However, on my second attempt to read it, I was pleasantly surprised. This book is a lovely work of mythic fiction, using folklore, myth and fairy tales to tell the story of a boy’s coming of age.
This is my less-than-200-words that I wrote for Kinokuniya: This story begins with a boy who could hear the whispers of books. They call out to him, and ask to be read. Resentful of his new stepmother and half-brother, as well as unable to let go of his dead mother, David falls into a world where stories come to life. Equipped with only his vast knowledge of fairy tales and folklore, David would have to outwit vicious wolves and merciless hunters as he seeks his only hope of returning to the human world – The Book of Lost Things. Reminiscent of classics like The Wizard of Oz and The Neverending Story, this fairy tale for adults proves that even the oldest of tales could still keep readers at the edge of their seats if in the hands of a good storyteller.
My favourite thing in this book is how John Connolly rewrites the fairy tales; I enjoyed reading about communist dwarves and a Snow White that terrorizes them, and how Little Red Riding Hood grows into a beautiful young woman who falls in love with a wolf. Connolly is not as inventive as Catherynne M. Valente (whose In The Night Garden remain one of the most remarkable work of mythic fiction I’ve read) but as a storyteller, I think he is equal to most of my favourite writers.
I love the atmosphere of the novel; it got me absorbed even though it was historical in nature (the reason I set it down the first time I read it was because I am very reluctant about reading fiction set in the past). The novel was dark, and scary in a not-so-obvious way (the best kind of scary, in my book), and it just strongly reminds me of the first part of The Neverending Story, when Atreyu was the protagonist. I couldn’t believe that John Connolly is, for the most part, a mystery/thriller author. If this book is any indication of his talent in fantasy, he really should be writing more in the genre. I’m thinking of picking up his Nocturnes next, but since it’s more of a horror/dark fantasy novel I might wait for next year’s challenge. After all, I have lots of other books to keep me happy in between.
I think I’ll tackle Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box and Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes next month, as it won’t be fun to finish the entire challenge before September ends, would it? (The challenge is from the beginning of September to end of October) I don’t think I’ll be getting my hands on The Last Watch in time for the challenge, which is too bad.
Anyway, I loved this book so much that I’ve chosen it as my next Gem of the Month (GotM). This book will be on 25% discount throughout October at Kinokuniya. Yay!
~ originally posted on blogspot
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