As a book consumer, you know this feeling: thinking back on your reading history and recalling the brightest spots — the books you are unlikely to forget, even with the passing of months and years. The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly, is one such book for me. True confession: I don’t read many adult books unless something draws my attention to them. In this case, it was two things: the cover (I love book cover design) and its Alex Award (YALSA’s annual award of ten books written for adults with YA appeal).
This book gave me actual goosebumps, and stuck with me long after the cover was closed. Obviously, Alice went through the looking-glass and Dorothy went to Oz, and the fractured fairy tale for adults has been well-done before. But for me, this book gave its child traveler, David, much richer and scarier motives than “there’s no place like home.” The war background made me think of the movie Pan’s Labyrinth (which has many similar themes), and I appreciated the frank discussion of David’s feelings of grief for his mother, displacement in his family, and hatred for his new half-brother. These things made his journey that much more poignant. Being a certified wimp, I was both repulsed and hypnotized with every page-turn, from David’s first sighting of the Crooked Man through the window of his room, to the very nightmarish activities of the Huntress. No spoilers here, but I’ll warn you: you may have to read the ending more than once!
Though it’s been several years, the memory of this book lingers with me, brought back full force every time a teen asks for a fairy-tale book (lately, A Tale Dark and Grimm has been getting lots of requests). Looking for more in this vein? Check out the PPYA lists Twists on the Tale and Magic in the Real World. And maybe grab a friend to offset the creepiness!
— Becky O’Neil, currently reading Batwoman: Elegy, by Greg Rucker
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