October 17, 2008

The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly

The Book of Lost Things was a book I had heard and read a lot about - I wasn't sure if it was really going to be my cup of tea but everything I was reading about it sounded fantastic so I decided to give it a go - and I'm so glad I did.

The book starts of in "our" world which is actually England at the beginning of WW2. We learn about a boy called David;

Once upon a time - for that is how all stories should begin - there was a boy who lost his mother.

David is a 12 year old boy with a great love for books and stories. He lives in London with his mother and father and life is great - until his mother dies after a slow and painful illness. The voice of David as he tells the story of the life and death of his mother is poignant and innocent. As his mother is dying David starts to engage in various rituals and routines in the hope that this will save his mother;

He created a routine, and he tried to keep to that routine as closely as possible, because he believed in part that his mother's fate was linked to the actions he performed. He would always get out of bed by putting his left foot on the floor first, then his right. He always counted up to twenty when he was brushing his teeth, and he always stopped when the count was completed.

Of course, these routines do not stop David's mother from dying and he is left devastated by her loss - turning to the beloved stories that they shared when his mother was alive for comfort and protection from his grief. David's father eventually takes another partner, Rose, and David and his father go to live with Rose on the outer edges of London when his baby half-brother, Georgie, is born.

David does not feel connected to his new life or his new family at all - he grieves for the loss of his mother and his life. It is then that David begins to hear his books whispering and speaking to him - talking to him of other lands and stories that sound much more inviting than his own.

Through the actions of a German air raid David comes upon the opportunity to pass through to another land through the sunken garden at the bottom of his yard. This new land is filled with demons, beasts and challenges for David - as well as protectors and friends.

I saw this story as a metaphor for a journey through grief and loss for David - he has to take the hard, painful way through to find some acceptance of his life as it currently is.

This is a beautiful, haunting (and at times scary!) story which I loved - highly recommended.


nutmeg said...

I had a similar feeling to you about this one as I am not really a "fantasy" lover but I did like this book very much.

Also, I have been trying to track down a copy of the Heretic's Daughter and it's proving rather elusive. Did you buy it in hardback?

Karen said...

Hi Nutmeg - I did buy Heretic's Daughter in hardback through Amazon - I don't think I have seen it in Australian stores as yet. I must admit I bought it just before the Aussie dollar dropped in value! My buyings from Amazon have stopped for the moment!