“Once upon a time—for that is how all stories should begin—there was a boy who lost his mother,” opens this intriguing book, The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly. It is an interesting opening sentence especially due to how much it reveals about the book. David, the protagonist of the book, is a pre-teen who is the “boy who lost his mother.” He is a quiet kid who loves his mother and the stories they read together. When he loses her and his family life is dramatically changed, it is to stories that David looks for comfort.
Stories are at the heart of this book; more specifically, as the first four words indicate, fairy tales are at its center. David, who is prone to seizures and exhibits obsessive-compulsive behavior, finds that he can hear books whispering to each other and speaking to him. As the story progresses, he literally steps from his World War II home in the English county-side into a world of fairytales. However, these are not the brightly-colored fairytales you plaster cheerful pictures of on the walls of your baby’s nursery; these are the tales from the dark woods behind your grandmother’s house that you were afraid to enter.
As in most fairytales, David has to undergo a journey and learn a few things about his self and his place in his now altered family picture. David is confronted by real dangers and faces decisions that could mean life or death not only in the world he finds himself in, but also in the world he left behind. This book should be considered a fairytale for adults. It isn’t a perfect book, or even a great book, but if you delight in story itself and are looking for something a bit unexpected, then this book is a very good read.
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