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The Book of Lost Things: A Novel Hardcover – November 7, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 403 customer reviews

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--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thriller writer Connolly (Every Dead Thing) turns from criminal fears to primal fears in this enchanting novel about a 12-year-old English boy, David, who is thrust into a realm where eternal stories and fairy tales assume an often gruesome reality. Books are the magic that speak to David, whose mother has died at the start of WWII after a long debilitating illness. His father remarries, and soon his stepmother is pregnant with yet another interloper who will threaten David's place in his father's life. When a portal to another world opens in time-honored fashion, David enters a land of beasts and monsters where he must undertake a quest if he is to earn his way back out. Connolly echoes many great fairy tales and legends (Little Red Riding Hood, Roland, Hansel and Gretel), but cleverly twists them to his own purposes. Despite horrific elements, this tale is never truly frightening, but is consistently entertaining as David learns lessons of bravery, loyalty and honor that all of us should learn. (Nov.)
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Review

Brilliantly creepy coming of age novel. Mirror 'Here Connolly steps directly into the enchanted forest, and the journey along its twisting path is as sinister and unsettling as anything invented by the Brothers Grimm ... Connolly's control of this material is superb; tension, terror and gallows humour make the book a gripping read. But this allegorical coming-of-age story also cleverly shows the way that traditional stories have been used to reflect the sometimes harsh concerns of our world.' Eithne Farry, Daily Mail John Connolly has a cult following for his crime novel and can clearly plot twists and turns. He has applied that talent to his own life by producing a very different book ... a highly original novel using stories that we all know. But think twice before reading his version of Hansel and Gretel to your kids. The Times It's imaginative, funny, sad and profound - fairy tales within a fairy tale, a child's adventure, a fantasy journey; it's about growing old and has the last word on dying ... Each re-reading still brings a sigh and a moment of reflection. Radio Times A powerful, powerful writer. I got a very real chill down my spine. This is an amazing book. -- Jeffery Deaver 'A moving fable, brilliantly imagined, about the agony of loss and the pain of young adulthood' The Times 'Connolly imagines the emotional cave-in of puberty intelligently, even perceptively' Guardian 'Engaging, magical, thoughtful read' Independent 'A new interpretation of old fairy tales, it is imaginative and beautifully written.' Choice 'This is no saccharine fairytale, but an eerie fable that's perfect for long winter nights' Daily Mail A powerful, powerful writer. I got a very real chill down my spine. This is an amazing book. -- Jeffery Deaver Brilliantly creepy coming of age novel. Mirror It's imaginative, funny, sad and profound - fairy tales within a fairy tale, a child's adventure, a fantasy journey; it's about growing old and has the last word on dying ... Each re-reading still brings a sigh and a moment of reflection. Radio Times John Connolly has a cult following for his crime novel and can clearly plot twists and turns. He has applied that talent to his own life by producing a very different book... a highly original novel using stories that we all know. But think twice before reading his version of Hansel and Gretel to your kids. Times 'The book's epic villainy, mournful tone and tested morality is the essence of Connolly. Worst of all is the Crooked Man, who ranks with the Travelling Man, the Collector and even Mr Pudd among Connolly's most memorable villains. 'THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS is peculiar and perverse and humane, with an incredibly lyrical finale ... The novel should earn the author new readers.' The Irish Times 'What gives THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS such a chilling edge is the way the real and illusory worlds sit so comfortably together ... and the most wicked of the wicked, who goes by the name of The Crooked Man, at times possesses the kind of guile and plausibility of which modern-day politicians would be proud ... Even if you aren't normally drawn to stories in which the imagination is given such a free rein, there is something tender, something strangely moving about David's experience of the land called Elsewhere.' Daily Express 'Brilliantly creepy coming of age novel' Mirror 'A powerful, powerful writer. I got a very real chill down my spine. This is an amazing book.' Jeffery Deaver 'Charming, disturbing and outrageously imaginative. A tremendously exciting change of pace.' Lawrence Jackson, Producer of BBC Radio 4's adaptations of John Connolly's short stories --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (November 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743298853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743298858
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (403 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #457,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In this first departure from mystery novels (discounting of course his excellent collection of deep and dark stories from a previous book titled Nocturnes) John Connolly manages to meld illogical with logical and to remind us all that what may seem real is just another side of a coin conveniently labeled nightmare and fantasy.

This tale builds slowly (as it should and during the brief passage of the first five chapters) through the eyes of a twelve year old boy named David. But the tale soon picks up speed on the doorstep of Chapter six. And then... watch out!

The source for most of the tales encountered by David, during his journey through an alternate but un-named land, is the Brother's Grimm. And the structure itself lends closely to Lewis Carroll's tales of Alice's adventure in Wonderland and her journey Through the Looking Glass. But we cannot omit L. Frank Baum from this porridge of evil but sublime. His imprint is there and presiding with more than a tip of the hat to Dorothy and her journey to Oz and to the `Magnificent Wizard' (and a reminder of at least a couple of her companions, along the way through that journey).

But don't think I'm going to say this tale is a `copy' of any of the above! The story is wholly original in the telling... and then some.

It should be said (and already has been) that this rendering is not for children. And it is not for the faint of heart. If anything, the story can be viewed as cautionary fairy tale melded with contemporary warning to the likes of Ed Gein and John Wayne Gacy (and Gacy especially, when `feeling' the creepy crawly `below-world' of the crooked man and some of his personal culinary delights). Both of these monsters could easily have existed in David's alternate world.

And wasn't that, after all is said and done, the original warning of the Brother's Grimm?

Beware of that which seems innocent and pure because... it may be not!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When you see John Connolly's name on a book, it's a no brainer it will be fabulous - from Charlie Parker to this wondrous book. This book caught my imagination from the book cover. As one who holds books like they are part of me, the thought of books whispering, actions done that confirms no harm will happen the next day, even our darkest thoughts as children and adults draws me into its web. This masterful novel deals with a young boy, David, who has lost his mother, and sees his father have to marry his pregnant girlfriend, and then, adding insult to injury, they have a baby, usurping the attention David thought he should have.
He runs into the woods to leave this situation and on the other side of a tree is another world. A world that David would have to conquer in order to be released from it, and understands the true nature of goodness and love. After many adventures with stories of fairy tales that we might have read, (but these stories have their own twists), David must choose between good and evil. During this journey David finds himself growing from a child to a young man with a true heart. All lost things are found again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read all of John Connolly's other novels and love them. Only problem I have is that he can't write them quickly enough to satisfy my desire. (smile) Began 'Book of Lost Things' late last night and, like another reviewer, read it in one sitting. WHAT a story! WHAT a storyteller! The book held me from the very beginning with the books, the books talking, the life of books, the emotion of books! There was even a passage that brought a tear to my eyes, the passage about the boy discovering pictures of his mother as a young girl and realized she had an entire life separate from him. Since I've lost my own mother, and now have pictures of her as a girl I, too, went through that 'aha' experience. John Connolly reaches deep into the heart of us all, if we are receptive to him. This is a book for all those who believe in the life of books and the power of words. It is a book NOT to be missed and a book I hope earns every award possible. Trust me, if you have a heart, the ending will have you crying and the final pages will have you returning to read them again and again. He is truly a master storyteller and, to my mind, what better thing can one be? Mr. Connolly thank you, thank you for the enjoyment you bring to many of us. And, to the reviewer who said he read this story via download, why read it any other way? Because a download is NOT a book. There is something about a book, the smell, the feel ......the LIFE.
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Format: Hardcover
12-year-old David loves to read and, upon the death of his mother, hears books talking. Still mourning the loss of his mother, his father tells him he'll have a new mother and a baby brother or sister. They move out of London to his stepmother Rose's huge house in the country where he is given a room filled with books but feels angry and displaced by Rose and the baby. Soon he starts seeing The Crooked Man and discovers a passage into a different world filled with wolves, loups, harpies, trolls and others including a Woodsman who helps him on his journey to see the King and back to his own world.

This is definitely not Disney's version of fairy tales and even the Brothers Grimm might find parts of this a bit horrific. Connolly's definition of "happy ever after" may be realistic but is definitely sad. Yes, there are lessons of bravery, loyalty and love, but I found the story repetitive and lacking the "magic" that makes fairy tales so memorable. Connolly is a superb writer. His Charlie Parker books, up until "Dark Angel." were masterful in their balance of horrible and humor, humanity and paranormal and were written with such a lyrical style. That was lost with "Dark Angel" and is missing here as well. The last 10-11 pages were wonderful but it's not a story I'll go back and re-read as I do "Beauty and the Beast," Neil Gaiman's 'Coraline,' or Raymond Feist's "Fairie Tale," one of my favorites.
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