The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Published: 01 Aug 2008
Goodreads badgePublisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 512
Format: Book
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tales
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 stars

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.

You know how sometimes you read a book, and from the first few chapters you already know it is going to be spectacular. That is what The Book of Lost Things is. I knew this was getting five stars and it held up its promise until the final word.

It tells the story of 12 year old David who struggles with the death of his mum and the new changes in his life as he struggles to hold on to the old. Trust me, this is not going where you think it is. As a character David loves books, loves to read and is always reading about fairytales and stories about knights and history. Anything he can get his hands on, but he always returns to the fairytales. For a kid his age David has pretty good insights. A lot are childhood irrationalities, but others are profound and well developed.

When David is propelled into a strange new world and must face what sits before him. Through his books he finds recognition as there are references to multiple fairytales and other books in Connolly’s story, but it is nothing like you expect and even more than you can imagine. It is like a book of fairytales gone mad, but in a sinister but amusing fashion. They clash and cross over and intertwine with myth and legend. There are deeper meanings, lessons and insights in everything Connolly writes and it makes even the stories being told seem like memories rather than works of fiction.

Connolly’s imagination and creativity is amazing, yes there are things he’s borrowed but where he takes them is beyond what they were intended for. The creativity he shows surrounding these characters is fantastic and allows you to see more than what the story requires but opens up this cavern of detail and insight about the rest of the world, what goes on when the story is not being told.

Not many books can make me emotional, like proper emotional. I am not sure what it was, but I’d like to think it was a combination of sadness and happiness, but also perhaps a little bit of admiration about this entire journey and story. They were not bad tears, there is something wonderful about books that make you cry, much like a movie. I’m also not saying you will start crying reading this story but when you finish, if you do not feel differently about the world, about friends, about family, about reading and growing up, then you must turn back to page one and try again because you’ve read it wrong.

Connolly writes this story with such honesty and truth that he hold nothing back about the realities of life, the impact of stories and the importance of family. It keeps you going and you know these things to be true and you admire the strength and heart that this book has. How you could not reread this a hundred times over is beyond me. This book is going to stay with me for the rest of my life and for every good reason

Top Five of 2012

As I wrote that heading I felt a little disappointed it couldn’t be Top Five 2005 just so I could get it to rhyme. Ah the things I think of. Anyway, I thought since we are still establishing ourselves, and being the new year and all, I would do a list of my favourite books of last year. These were the kinds of books that were completely unexpected. They managed to get me excited, engaged, emotional and some were extremely heartwarming, unexpectedly so too I might add. I have only picked five because I think ten takes away the beauty and the purpose because really, ten is more for ‘Top Authors’ or ‘Favourite Characters’ something that can have multiple entrants that don’t really matter where they’re placed. I say that knowing it is undoubtedly untrue and when I can think of ten Favourite Characters I adore I’ll probably make my own list. But we can’t let facts and truth get in the way of my point.

Let’s do this from 5 to 1 shall we.

5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

I will say that seeing the 2011 film of the same name made me want to read this book. I was a little taken back by the thickness but as soon as I turned to page one it didn’t matter. The beauty of the book was echoed in the film if that is any indication to go by.

4. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Straight off the bat, please do not judge this book by its movie. I beg you. I found this book and picked it because I thought the title looked familiar. Once I had finished and fell in love with it I searched and found the movie. I only got past a few seconds of the trailer before I turned it off. This book has such heart and soul entwined into it I knew the movie was not going to show that at all. And despite DiCamillo not making the list again I insist you read her other books as well, they are just as touching I promise.

3. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I had this book recommended to me by a friend and I am so glad that she did. This book was filled with humour, with intrigue, it shows a side to reading and to literature I have never even thought about before. It became great inspiration for some story ideas certainly. I had not come across something like this before and now I will admit I am addicted to Fforde and his writing, and whatever series he dangles in front of me to read.

2. The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard

This was another chance discovery that paid off. I have discovered anything with Book or Library in the title is going on my to read list. This one certainly did not disappoint. I had not read anything like this before and I have to say it has me searching out more crime/thriller type novels. It is not heavy with detail and deep with the mystery but it does keep you guessing and it was definitely one I could not put down; I lugged it everywhere until I had finished.

1. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

I am extremely aware that I have not shut up about this book since I finished it. I apologise to everyone who has had to listen to me gush about this book but it was 100% worth it. I was so enthralled and moved and overwhelmed by this book as soon as I had finished I wrote to Mr Connolly telling him how fantastic I found his book. I implore you all to find this book and read it. Once again I found it on a fluke in the library and I am unbelievably glad I did. I am now on a hunt to track down his other titles from the very beginning including his Charlie Parker series. Fingers crossed they are just as brilliant.

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