The Book of Lost Things
High in his attic bedroom, twleve-year-old David mourns the loss of his mother. He is angry and he is 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 the myths and fairytales so beloved of his dead mother he finds that the real world and the fantasy world have begun to meld. The Crooked Man has come, with his mocking smile and his enigmatic words: ‘Welcome, your majesty. All hail the new king.’
And as war rages across Europe, David is violently propelled into a land that is both a construct of his imagination yet frighteningly real, a strange reflection of his own world composed of myths and stories, populated by wolves and worse-than-wolves, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious, legendary book…
When David’s mother dies he struggles to accept that he failed to save her, despite the fact there was nothing he could have done. In time his father marries again and has another child, but David spirals further into loneliness and refuses to have anything to do with his stepmother Rose, or his half-brother Georgie. He locks himself away in a world of books… but suddenly, the books become more real – they begin to whisper to David.
One night David finds himself in a sunken garden, away from the main garden of his house. Here he enters a new world, where fairytales are real and more sinister than they appear in his books. David must find a way to get back home, while conquering his fears and the threats in the new world.
I really liked the concept of this book, the twist on fairytales and how they’re used to create a whole new world in which everything isn’t happily ever after. Ultimately the book is about growing up and facing loss, and the final chapter in particular was one that really stuck out for me in terms of dealing with these themes. David’s transition from childhood to adulthood and all that brings with it is only briefly explored, yet it really resonates and was actually my favourite part. For me this chapter saved the book, as for the most part I struggled with it and found it to be just average – but the last chapter really sums up loss in all its forms, and is a touching ending.
The rest of the book felt somewhat weak to me. I struggled to get into it, and although I could see what Connolly was trying to do with David’s journey, his self discovery and awareness of the world, there was something missing. It felt like it just fell short of the mark. The Book of Lost Things could have been an amazing novel, and had the whole book been as strong as the final chapter it would have been great – I wasn’t bored by the story, but it didn’t pack the punch that the final chapter did.