The Book of Lost Things

September 29, 2007 at 12:19 pm 4 comments

I bought this book a while ago because it has such a fantastic cover. Looking for something relaxing to read while I was in Leeds recently I picked it up and snugggled in. It was scary. A lot scarier than I expected. It’s set against the backdrop of World War II London. It starts off very sadly (and convincingly) as a young boy’s mother is dying, and he thinks he can protect her by performing meaningless rituals, like doing everything in even numbers. It doesn’t work. After she dies, he loses himself more and more in the fairytales which she too had loved. He gets sucked into their world, where everything is going wrong…

When I was reading it, I thought about why I like fairytales so much. I remember reading an essay by C.S. Lewis (or it could have been Tolkien) defending fairytales from being dismissed as escapism. Are we wrong, he asked, to want to escape this world?

The Book of Lost Things asks the same question. And answers: yes and no. I think the end of this book is less convincing than its beginning, but it is interesting none the less. I used to long desperately for fairytales to be true. Now I know they are true, I don’t need them so much. But I like them, I like the lens through which they filter the world. I like the idea of journeys and quests, because if life is a journey, it doesn’t matter if you can’t see what’s waiting round the next corner or over the crest of the hill. You’ll find out when you get there.


Entry filed under: John Connolly.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ted  |  September 30, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    I enjoyed this one quite a bit – except for the epilogue which I found totally unnecessary. A sort of scary but cozy book.

  • 2. meli  |  September 30, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    very true. on all counts.

  • 3. Eva  |  October 1, 2007 at 2:41 am

    This review makes me want to read this one even more! And it’s not out in paperback here in the States yet. 😦

  • 4. Nymeth  |  October 12, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    That essay is called “On Fairy Stories” and it’s by Tolkien… it is a wonderful essay. He says insightful things in a beautiful way.

    I was also surprised by how dark this book was. It was different from what I expected, but in some ways, even better.

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