Saturday, 7 June 2008

The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly

The world of the old tales existed parallel to ours, as David’s mother had once told him, but sometimes the wall separating the two became so thin that the two worlds started to blend into each other.

At the start of WWII David’s life couldn’t be worse. His beloved mother, who used to read him stories and taught him the power of books, has died. His father soon finds another woman, Rose, whom David hates instantly. All he can do is take refuge into the comforts of books. Until one day his father marries Rose and move into her family’s country house. Once again David is drawn to books to forget about his miserable faith. The books in his new bedroom are different, though. First of all, the fairy tales that they tell are much darker and crueler than the one he is used to. They are twisted, macabre versions of the popular tales. And they never end well. But most disturbingly, books start whispering to him, while a crooked man begins to haunt his dreams every night. Until the day David is lured into the world of fairy tales by his mother’s voice and his adventure starts.

This book had all the premises to become a big hit and possibly a favourite. It started well for me, then towards half of the story I realised I was going to be disappointed. I know a lot of people loved it, so I was prepared to love it too. And I really tried to give it a fair chance till the end, but I can’t say I was completely impressed. There was something missing, and I can’t quite define what it was. Probably the writing wasn’t great. I thought the style was rather ordinary, so maybe it didn’t do much for the story. But then again, I didn’t like the story much either. It felt flat, somehow. It didn’t grab me emotionally, though the plot was dense of events and fast-pacing. I don’t share the same love for gory scenes as John Connolly, and all that blood was too much for me.
Also it didn’t help that most of the women’s characters in the fairy tale's world were evil (the woman in the fortress) or stupid (Snow-white) or mad ( the hunter) or just guilty of something (creating the Loups for example). Even the big monster thingy ends up to be female! You know, I’m very sensitive about these matters… I know that the ultimate bad guy was the Crooked Man, but it still doesn’t change that David only encounters positive male heroes, and only negative female characters, with the exception of Rose, who doesn’t appear much in the story, and Anna, who is only a little girl.
I usually like the idea of a twisted fairy tale, of re-interpreting the well-known stories and finding a hidden side of it, but not in this case.
In order not to add spoilers to this review I can’t discuss the ending much here, but even there I have my objections.
This said, I didn’t completely hate it. I thought the first part was engaging. The Crooked Man is actually scary in a good way. No need to spill litres of blood to give me the creeps. The episode of Snow White and the seven dwarfs was funny, and light-hearted. The final part with the little girl in the jar was moving. And I appreciated how David’s attitude changed and matured in the course of his journey.
All I can say is read and judge for yourself. To those who loved it, please don’t take it personally, I can see why you liked it, it just didn’t do it for me.

ps: this was my 100th post! another reason to celebrate!:D

other blog reviews:
Nymeth at things mean a lot
Presenting Lenore
Dewey at The hidden side of a leaf
Renay at Bottle of shine
Kay's bookshelf
Stephanie's confessions of a book-a-holic
melody's reading corner
Stuff as dreams are made on
Stephanie at The written world


Ana S. said...

I'm sorry you were disappointed. I did love this book, but I'd never take a divergent opinion personally, worry not :P

I hope you enjoy your next read more!

Bunny B said...

I love twisted fairy tales too.. this book sounds interesting though. Hope you had a lovely weekend :)

Melody said...

I love twisted fairy tales too! And here's my link for the review.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Oh no, I'm sorry you didn't like this one. I've had my eye out for this one for a while, but I'll probably keep looking (casually). :)

Congrats on 100 posts!

Anonymous said...

We can't all like the same book, right? :)

Shadow said...

hiya! i've just finished reading it and i am moved. i totally loved it... oh well, not everyone loves the same things, life would be so boring then.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to know.