David is a quiet twelve years old who loves to read and be around his books. Recently losing his mother to sickness, he and his dad try to cope without her. To David’s dismay, his father quickly starts up a relationship with another woman and they soon share with him the news that he’s to be a big brother which makes him resent his newly-forming family. When David starts hearing whispers coming from his books, it eventually leads him into walking through a hole in the wall of the garden and into a strange new land. There, he encounters many storybook characters from the good, bad and unexpected in the journey to discovering whether he wants to stay in this bizarre land or to go home where he was so unhappy.
Part Alice in Wonderland and part Wizard Of Oz, The Book of Lost Things is a great “modern day” fairytale. While the story itself takes place during the war in 1939, the message behind it is timeless. The book had come highly recommended by a good friend of mine and admittedly I was skeptical about it when I picked it up. The beginning of the novel is a bit slow-moving and it took me a long time to really get into it. I understand that the beginnings had to be there to establish the resentment that David felt towards his new family but everything before him actually getting to the other land was quite bland.
That being said, I couldn’t put it down once he reached the other side of the hole in the wall. I loved the re-imagining of many familiar fables and fairytales. There are so many well known characters that make appearances in this and not necessarily in the way that we all know them to be in the regular tales. This was also a bit reminiscent of Tolkien’s books… David’s journey felt like the one that Bilbo Baggins takes… leaving home and out of his comfort zone, encountering all sorts of characters and creatures, to learn something about himself and what he’s made of. Connolly takes a child-like story on the surface and weaves in some tougher, more adult, emotions and situations. It was quite an enjoyable read and would certainly have given it a higher star rating if it wasn’t for how long it took me to get into it. I’d highly recommend it for fans of fairytale retellings and/or the TV show Once Upon a Time.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4 /5 stars)
Available: October 16, 2007
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Read as part of Brunch Book Club with Lost in a Great Book.
Wrap up discussion to come in the coming week.