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The Book of Lost Thingsby John Connolly
Synopses & Reviews
New York Times bestselling author John Connolly's unique imagination takes readers through the end of innocence into adulthood and beyond in this dark and triumphantly creative novel of grief and loss, loyalty and love, and the redemptive power of stories.
High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother. He is angry and 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 his imagination, he finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a land that is a strange reflection of his own world, populated by heroes and monsters, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book...The Book of Lost Things.
An imaginative tribute to the journey we must all make through the loss of innocence into adulthood, John Connolly's latest novel is a book for every adult who can recall the moment when childhood began to fade, and for every adult about to face that moment. The Book of Lost Things is a story of hope for all who have lost, and for all who have yet to lose. It is an exhilarating tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.
"Thriller writer Connolly (Every Dead Thing) turns from criminal fears to primal fears in this enchanting novel about a 12-year-old English boy, David, who is thrust into a realm where eternal stories and fairy tales assume an often gruesome reality. Books are the magic that speak to David, whose mother has died at the start of WWII after a long debilitating illness. His father remarries, and soon his stepmother is pregnant with yet another interloper who will threaten David's place in his father's life. When a portal to another world opens in time-honored fashion, David enters a land of beasts and monsters where he must undertake a quest if he is to earn his way back out. Connolly echoes many great fairy tales and legends (Little Red Riding Hood, Roland, Hansel and Gretel), but cleverly twists them to his own purposes. Despite horrific elements, this tale is never truly frightening, but is consistently entertaining as David learns lessons of bravery, loyalty and honor that all of us should learn." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"There is lot of genre-splicing going on these days, and that surely is a good thing. John Connolly is a thriller writer who has earned attention and success for his tough-minded Charlie Parker novels. I enjoyed some of his previous outings and was looking forward to this book, hoping to find the techniques and pace of the thriller imported into the fantastic, perhaps dispensing with tired formulas,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) raising the levels of suspense and forging an exciting hybrid form. I'm not sure if 'The Book of Lost Things' represents a career switch or a distracting outing for the author. Publishers don't like their genre writers to play this game, citing long lists of those who tried, cried and died. The common problem with switching mounts while a career is cantering along nicely is that, having made the jump, one often finds oneself on an old horse, a slow horse or one that won't even get out of the stable. 'The Book of Lost Things' is initially set in wartime Britain. A 12-year-old boy named David loses his mother. He becomes reclusive and bookish, unable to relate to his stepmother and jealous of a new sibling. And then he discovers a tree portal to an enchanted forest. This is just the first in a long sequence of very old chestnuts. One reads on, waiting for the author to mint these cliches afresh, to carry old narrative patterns into new places. Alas. A writer who invokes the power of the greenwoods in the realm of the fantastic should at least know that the stakes are high because the list of antecedents is long and accomplished. In fact, it would take another book to chart the treatment of the theme of 'into the woods,' which so often denotes the process of transformation or a passage into a new world. Innocence of these traditions can sometimes offer fresh writing; ignorance of what is hackneyed can be fatal. It's difficult enough to take yet another 'Return of the King,' but the narrative here retreads one tired trope after another. David's quest is a tedious series of attacks (from wolves/trolls/hunters/harpies/ footpads/unspeakable writhing worms), and his allies are a procession of promptly killed bit partners (woodsmen/dwarves/knights), none of whom ever contributes to the structure of the story. They exist only as potential fang fodder. Connolly struggles with issues that newcomers to the fantasy genre have to nail early. For example, having triggered a portal into an Other World, there is always the question of how the Other Worldly speak. Unless your point is somewhat satirical, you don't want characters speaking vernacular Bronx or London 'mockney.' Then again, unless you have Tolkien's philological plans and knowledge, there often follows the desperate recourse to the antiquated and campy tones of mid-period English: 'Men and women fear to travel, for this world has grown passing strange.' The novel also is pitched unevenly. Crossover or young adult novels are very sexy at the moment, but the tone must be consistent for them to work. Some of this 12-year-old's perceptions are fun enough: David 'hears' books making noises, and a book on industry proves so boring that it has a 'habit of snoring very loudly and then coughing thunderously.' How Harry Potterish and jolly. But then in another place, David hears nasty homophobic innuendo about one of his traveling companions. He also sees a strange creature with lips 'very dark, like old, sour wine.' I'm not sure that in wartime Britain — or any other time — a 12-year-old boy would make that kind of observation, fine though it might be in another context. I did like the play on books as a healing factor, a recurring motif in David's reclusive life. The quest object itself is the eponymous 'Book of Lost Things.' But I yearned for some greater integration between the fantastic and the realist worlds that are set up. The latter, nicely created in the first 60 pages, is simply allowed to wither on the vine. Writers should switch genres whenever and wherever they want, of course. The imagination needs new challenges. But Connolly is better than this, and he owes it to himself to know that Angela Carter or the more contemporary Robert Holdstock or Charles de Lint have been here before doing far more original work. Perhaps followers of Connolly will find this work highly original, but you would have to know nothing of the fantastic to think so." Reviewed by ", Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"The Irish thriller-writer breaks new ground with this extravagant fantasy....Connolly doesn't know when to stop — by the end, the punch-drunk reader is past caring about the ultimate winner or David's fate." Kirkus Reviews
"In an intriguing change of pace from his crime novels, Connolly's book takes readers back into the imaginations they once held as children, reminding them of the time when they created fantasy worlds before adulthood changed them forever. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Connolly's latest effort...pushes his storytelling skills in new directions, resulting in a novel that combines old-fashioned storytelling with modern sensibilities, that includes a moral without being moralistic, much like the best classic fairy tales themselves." Bookreporter.com
"All kinds of things go bump in the night in The Book of Lost Things, which works both on the level of adults who will appreciate its imagination and younger readers who will be able to stretch their imagination." South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"With his evocative style, he takes familiar themes — the loss of innocence, the redemptive power of storytelling — and tweaks them in clever, even perverse, ways." Los Angeles Times
In the tradition of C.S. Lewis and Gregory Maguire's Wicked, bestselling author Connolly (The Black Angel) offers a creative coming-of-age story about one boy's journey into adulthood by combining dramatic themes with edge-of-your-seat suspense and a fantastical imagination.
High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own — populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.
Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.
The bestselling author of "The Black Angel" offers a creative coming-of-age story about one boys journey into adulthood, combining dramatic themes with edge-of-your-seat suspense and a fantastical imagination.
About the Author
John Connolly is the author of Every Dead Thing, Dark Hollow, The Killing Kind, The White Road, Bad Men, Nocturnes, and The Black Angel. He is a regular contributor to the Irish Times and lives in Dublin, Ireland. For more information, see his website at www.johnconnolly.co.uk and read more about this book at www.thebookoflostthings.co.uk.
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