Review: The Book of Lost Things

12:16 Cilla P 6 Comments

Title: The Book of Lost Things
Author: John Connolly
Publisher: Gramedia Pustaka Utama (Indonesian translation copy)
Source: I bought this years ago and then kind of lost interest, until recently.

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Synopsis: High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own -- populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.

Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.


"Once upon a time – for that is how all stories should begin – there was a boy who lost his mother.” 
It may be the influence Disney had on my childhood, but I generally don't gravitate toward dark fairytales. There are a lot of those in this book; in fact, I can't think of any mentioned that has a happy ending. Set in London at the time of World War and started with David's personal tragedy, the mood of the book never wavered far from bleak. This was the main reason I quit this book a couple of years ago: I was uncomfortable and wanted something happier.

Now that I'm older, I'm as fascinated as I am uncomfortable with this story. It's billed for adults who can still remember what it's like when your childhood is ending, and it doesn't sugarcoat that journey. Rather, it's a realistic take on growing up: it's going to be hard, you're going to suffer losses that you can't get back, but you can find courage and strength within you to keep moving forward and fight the monsters. I feel David embodies this message perfectly, and his self-discovery and growth is absolutely my favourite part about the book.

I enjoyed the world-building despite my preference for more sunshine. Connolly took elements of familiar fairytales, twisted them, and sewed them together to make a world. It felt a little patchwork-y at times, but I think this world is meant to be disjointed and broken given the evil that has been ruling there.

As mentioned above, this book is not for you if you don't like graphic violence. There are a lot of bloody and gory scenes, and some of its subplots can be downright disturbing. This is really the main reason I'm only giving it three stars. While I enjoy the storytelling aspects, this doesn't appeal to my personal tastes. If you like your fairytale retelling dark with a good helping of creepy, this may be the book for you.

Let's talk!
Do you like dark retelling of fairytales? What about happy or realistic endings?


  1. This is a book that I really adored but haven't reread in a long time, but you make really valid points. The dark aspects aren't for everyone. Have you considered picking up one of his other books? I hear they're far more light-hearted.

    1. I actually haven't looked at what else he's written, but I may consider picking one up! I did enjoy the writing in this book. :)

  2. I am all for dark retellings, but graphic violence? Not so much....

    Kate @ Ex Libris

    1. Yeahh, I don't have the stomach for it either.

  3. I stumbled across this post when I was looking for reviews of this book. I finished it yesterday and felt slightly... under-whelmed because so many of my friends loved it and I just wasn't feeling it.

    I think my main problem was the patchwork-ness that you mentioned. I'm not sure whether it was intentional or not, but either way I couldn't get on board with it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts - it's always a relief to know that other people feel the same!

    1. Hello! I'm glad to hear you weren't feeling it too - I was starting to think I might have been the only one haha. I did feel like the world was meant to be disjointed, since it's a twisted mash-up of different stories, but it can be hard to enjoy.

      Thanks for stopping by, Hanna!


Thanks for reading! It makes my day to hear your thoughts and I will respond asap. :)