The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (VO)

Synopsis : ‘Everything You Can Imagine is Real’

High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the loss of his mother. He is angry and he is alone, with only the books on his shelf for company.

But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in the myths and fairytales so beloved of his dead mother he finds that the real world and the fantasy world have begun to meld. The Crooked Man has come, with his mocking smile and his enigmatic words: ‘Welcome, your majesty. All hail the new king.’

And as war rages across Europe, David is violently propelled into a land that is both a construct of his imagination yet frighteningly real, a strange reflection of his own world composed of myths and stories, populated by wolves and worse-than-wolves, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a legendary book . . .

Review : Before starting this book, I was a little afraid about the way the author has changed the tales all along the story. Indeed, I think it’s always difficult to rewrite stories of our childhood, stories that everyone knows about, without remove the little thing there is in them or even their enchantment. But it wasn’t the case, we can discover with a great pleasure the writings we all know but in a different form. Some don’t change and are very representative from the first ones, others have a new very original version like for the Little Red Riding Hood. Some of the stories are more horrific and others make us smile like Snow White, I can say I really loved this one, it was a really great idea !

We can wonder in the beginning, if this book isn’t a Young Adult story. It’s true that it’s very uncommon to find book with a twelve years old main character for older readers. But finally, we understand when we get into the story that it’s not a novel for young people, indeed it’s very obscure and complex. The book’s style makes me think of a movie I saw a little while ago : El Laberinto del Fauno. I think in some ways they’re very similar. We could assimilate Ofélia and David in a lot of points : their world with all their books, the war so close to them, their two natures, their desires…
I think the beginning of the story was a little too slow, the author uses some chapters to explain us again and again the death of David’s mother or even enmity between this young boy and her stepmother Rose. Maybe we needed that to really understand the world where he evolves, but it’s true that I really like more the story after that, when this part ended. The universe where he falls is very well conceived and the story well done. The mix of each tales with the main story was perfect and all the events succeed the ones after the others without any problems. We discover in the beginning, a young stubborn, selfish, boy blocked in his past but he will change all along the story to become a listening, brave person who wants to fix everything he had done.

It’s a nice book, at the same time strange and fascinating. It was a real pleasure to follow the adventures of David.

11 thoughts on “The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (VO)

  1. Aww, this book sounds like such a sweet and magical read! When I first read the summary, I thought it was a book for younger kids too because of the young protagonist, but I’m actually glad it’s not! It makes me want to pick up this book even more! 🙂

    Awesome review, Melliane! I’m glad it surprised you — in a good way! — and that this book has some character growth in it! That makes it even more awesome!

  2. Yeah me too but finally it’s full of darkness and complex stories. I think the US and UK allows us to make this mistake, it’s very different from the french. I would be curious to know what you think about it if you read it. In some way it’s magical and sweet and in others it’s not at all. It’s a good mix.

  3. Interesting to have such a young narrator in an adult book. I haven’t read many stories that can pull this off.

    Sounds like the repetitiveness was used to create an ominous ambiance, but it just didn’t translate very well. Good to know it improves after that.

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