10.14.2008

John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things

John Connolly's absorbing novel is part fairy tale, part fabulist fiction that ruminates on the power of imagination. Using the language and the characters of popular stories, Connolly leads us through a magical world, a world peopled by characters and scenes from popular imagination; yet, nothing looks quite right.
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David's mother has just died and his father has remarried another woman, a person David detests. To escape the pain of his loss and the growing suspicion that his father has replaced him and his mother with Rose and the new baby Georgie, David recedes into the world of his books - that have interestingly begun talking to him. David fears that if he says anything he may be 'put away,' so he silently watches and listens as the world begins to change.
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David soon finds himself in a magical land, a place where the violent Loups (part man, part wolf) gather in the distance to plot the takeover of the kingdom, and the old king lives, dejected and aging, in a lonely palace with only the book of lost things to keep him company. In order for David to return to his own world, he must make it to the palace to see the king because only the king can help him return home. As he journeys through this mysterious country, he sees death, destruction, and pain, as all creatures - good and evil - battle to keep their houses safe and their bellies full. Readers will recognize many beloved tales - Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin - but in this place, the grim, dark dimensions of these stories take precedence over 'happily ever after.'
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This is an absorbing novel, though a little scary, and a perfect read as it starts to get cold and creepy around Halloween.

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