The Book Of Lost Things: Dark, Twisted, & Utterly Moving Fairy Tales.

The Book Of Lost Things by John Connelly.

A book review by Kate O’Brien.

This book was published in 2006 by Hodder & Stoughton.

I have the beautiful, illustrated edition that was published in 2017.

The illustrations were created by Anne M. Anderson.

The Book Of Lost Things is a dark & twisted fairy tale written in the third-person that tells the story of David, a twelve year old boy who is mourning his mother. David’s world is turned upside down when his mother dies & his father remarries another woman very quickly. Not only does David have to get used to his new stepmother & a new home, but he also must adjust to having a new baby brother. David understandably really struggles to accept his new home life as he desperately misses his mother & he feels that his father moved on too quickly. David fears that his father does not miss his mother at all & he’d rather reinvent life with his brand-new family.

David finds solace in his books as he & his mother shared a passion for reading, but David’s world changes & he learns that stories are not always what they seem when the fictional world of his beloved fairy tales bleeds over into his reality. When David finds himself stuck in a fairy tale of his own, he must go on a journey to learn that good & bad, right & wrong are not always so straightforward.

I have always stated that I find age ratings difficult to apply, because a child’s reading level does not always adhere to their age & some children are more mature than others so they might be interested in, & able to handle more mature topics earlier than their peers, however I will say, & I do not say this lightly, that The Book Of Lost Things is not a children’s book. It sits on the line between being a YA novel & just a novel, full stop. I do think that fans of YA narratives would enjoy this novel as it does present tropes that are typically presented in YA narratives.

David feels like an outsider & so he goes on this journey believing that he is the outsider. In many ways, he does fulfil the archetypal YA role of “the chosen one,” there are some dystopian ideas at play because the fairy tale land that David is facing is in danger, but in many ways this novel steps beyond the realm of YA tropes. One example is the adults in this novel are not useless. The adults that David encounters play a very important role in shaping his journey as ultimately, I would argue that The Book Of Lost Things is a coming of age story & it particularly focuses on David maturing & growing from a young boy into a man.

The reason I say that this book is not a children’s book is because there is a very dark, & at times a very sinister undertone present throughout the book. This book deals with very mature & violent themes that some readers may find very upsetting and/or disturbing. This book focuses very heavily on lost & missing children, & there is a focus on the fact that there are people who do have ill intent & wish to harm children so while this book tells a very moving tale, it is not one for younger readers.

In terms of style, I would suggest that this novel is somewhat similar to A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Both texts feature a young boy who is becoming a man. Both boys are mourning their mothers, & both boys learn through stories that life is more nuanced than we think it is when we’re young, & right & wrong is not always so clear. Storytelling is a huge part of both texts too, as both boys have stories told to them as a way to help them grow & learn. At times I felt that David came across like he was clearly a twelve-year-old whose perspective was being written by an adult, yet at other times, he felt extremely realistic & his feelings & actions matched his age & his struggles which made him very easy to sympathise with & root for.

I think that fairy tale lovers especially will really enjoy this book because it features elements of classic fairy tales such as Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel & Gretel, but John Connelly adds his own spin to these well-known tales & there is one twist in particular that I won’t spoil, but I thought it was really clever.

The key themes explored in this novel are ideas of overcoming grief & anger, maturing from boyhood into manhood, family & a sense of belonging, & most importantly, the key theme of this book in my opinion is the lesson that right & wrong is not always as black & white as we might assume it is & as we grow, it is up to us to learn how to see beyond our emotions & make decisions that are right for us, but that are also right for the people around us. This book really illustrates how the choices that one person makes can really impact, & even really hurt another person & if we choose to do something knowing that it will really hurt someone else then we must be able to face the consequences that come with that decision.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book & I would highly recommend The Book Of Lost Things

By John Connelly. It was an exciting, poignant read that felt like a homage to classic, dark, & Grimm fairy tales. It was a very moving tale & I was highly invested throughout. I read this entire book in one evening as I kept having to turn the page, so I would absolutely encourage readers to pick up this book but be aware that it does feature some dark themes & topics that some may find upsetting & it is not a book for younger eyes.

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