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The Book of Lost Things

Narrated by: Steven Crossley
Length: 10 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,220 ratings)

Regular price: $21.52

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Publisher's Summary

High in his attic bedroom, 12-year-old David mourns the loss of his mother. He is angry and he is alone, with only the books on his shelf for company.But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in the myths and fairytales so beloved of his dead mother, he finds that the real world and the fantasy world have begun to meld. The Crooked Man has come, with his mocking smile and his enigmatic words: "Welcome, your majesty. All hail the new king."

With echoes of Gregory Maguire's and C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, author John Connolly introduces us to a cast of not-quite-familiar characters - like the seven socialist dwarfs who poison an uninvited (and unpleasant) princess and try to peg the crime on her stepmother. Or the Loups, the evil human-canine hybrids spawned long ago by the union of a wolf and a seductive girl in a red cloak.

As war rages across Europe, David is violently propelled into a land that is both a construct of his imagination, yet frighteningly real - a strange reflection of his own world composed of myths and stories, populated by wolves and worse-than-wolves, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a legendary book...The Book of Lost Things.

©2006 John Connolly (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC.

What members say

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

For Those Who Enjoy Playing with Fairytales

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is one of those books that appeal to a specific listener. If I know my friend has a fondness of fairytales and enjoys rather warped retellings, I'd suggest this book.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending was satisfying in its resolution, but it was perhaps a little too "tidy" for a book that was "out there."

What does Steven Crossely bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His agility with regional accents from the UK is admirable.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

David's delicate state after his mother's death was heartbreaking and disturbing. John Connolly did a great job engendering pity for the boy's plight, particularly in the scene at the psychiatrist's office when David has a meltdown.

Any additional comments?

The Crooked Man stands out as a particularly menacing bad guy. Towards the end of the story, the author pushed a little too hard with an overabundance of gory details and sickening anecdotes about the character's misdeeds. My finger hovered over the fast-forward button because the gratuitous detail became irritating. We already got it: he's a really bad dude.

The Book of Lost Things portrays the healing power of stories and books.

94 of 96 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable dark fairy tale

A bit like CS Lewis's Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe series and a bit like the movie Pan's Labyrinth, in that a child is pulled from the troubled real world into a dark, parallel fantasy world. This book, though, finds a middle ground between the preachyness of the former and the creepiness of the latter, paying tribute to a few other classics as well.

Connolly is imaginative, and I enjoyed his subversion of familiar fairy tales. Most are dark, but there's some Monty Python-like humor in a revision of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and I found a tale involving a not-quite-typical knight in shining armor to be moving in its simplicity.

Unfortunately, the book gets caught up in its episodic structure, and the larger plot arc is less satisfying. David, who begins the novel in World War II Britain as a standard everyboy, other than for an odd ability to hear books talk, has little more personality by the end. Still, Connolly creates an atmospheric world that's as foreboding but fun as the grim, old-fashioned tales of magic, wolves, and wicked tricksters that we loved as children, and it's a fine place for a visit, though perhaps not multiple reads.

80 of 84 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Unnecessarily Brutal

I love dark twists on beloved fairytales. I love hearing retellings and different POVs of stories I grew up on. This was almost too much. This book started off hauntingly beautiful and kept going deeper into the realms of slightly (if not more so) disturbing. The author seemed to take pleasure in describing how deplorable the antagonist was through descriptions of acts (even though we knew he was bad from the beginning). This book was fascinating in concept and the writing was amazing but the story... did not live up to it's potential.

When starting The Book of Lost Things, I was so entranced by the writing style of John Connolly that I was eager to finish it just to start another. Unfortunately the second half of the book has killed that fervour entirely. I am not sure if I'll ever attempt another of his books but I guess we will see.

84 of 89 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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What a great story!

I have read this book several times, I have 2 paper copies, 1 cd and now I downloaded it from Audible. I got it from Audible so I could bookmark it and so it would take up less room on the mp3 than the cd does. Anyway on to the review. How do I tell you how great it is without telling too much? Hmmmmm, well, I think I will try to tell you just a few of the things that I loved about it. This story grabbed me from the first page, yes the first page! No joke at all about that. The way the words spoke to me was different than most books, it was special. The stories pace was detailed but fast, to me it was just the right mixture to make me want to keep going without many breaks. As the story starts it is about an older boy whose Mom dies and he has to accept a new mom and a new half brother. Somewhere around there he starts to hear books talking to him, a "crooked man" starts coming around and he finds a door to a secret land/world.
When he enters the new world he finds one of the greatest and worst adventures that anyone could imagine. He meets some of my favorite characters that I have ever read in one book. Some of them befriend him while others scare him, lie to him, try to kill and even try to steal his soul. It is a coming of age book but also so much more. It is an adventure for some older teens but mostly for adults. It has a good ending so don't worry about that. All in all I believe most readers will find a reason to like this book. I usually read Koontz and Stephen King type of books but I now find this book among my all time favorites. The only thing that upsets me is that John Connolly has yet to write another story like this one! I will patiently wait.
I hope you give it a try.
Thank you for reading my opinion!

121 of 130 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely loved it!!

Set in England at the start of WWII, the 12-year-old main character, David is struggling with the death of his mother after a long debilitating illness. After his father quickly remarries and has another child, David feels abandoned and resentful. Always a reader, he turns to his books for solace and they in turn begin to talk back. He escapes into a secret world of fairy tales and embarks upon a quest to learn the truth about what really happened to his mother. This book is a mixture of coming of age story interspersed with fairy tales turned grisly. It is rare to find a book with truly creative concepts, but Connolly manages to take what could have been a fairly common format and make it unique. I will definitely be reading/listening to more of his work. I also thought the narrator was perfect for this story and added to the overall experience.

35 of 37 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Not what I expected

This book follows the tradition of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and other stories of children going through portals into other lands. However unlike Alice in Wonderland or Never Ending Story and other uplifting tales, this is very dark. Fairy tales are twisted to reveal the worst of the heroes and the villains are torturously evil with acts described that belong in a Clive Barker style book. Ultimately it reads slowly and with a lot of suffering on the part of the characters David encounters while David is himself fairly undynamic. I came away feeling little in the way of anything hopeful or redemptive and feeling awful from the description of actions against children. This may be as the author intended, but I feel it's falsely categorized and should be seen as more horror than fantasy fiction. A bit hard to finish and little payoff at the end.

45 of 50 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Masterpiece

Not very often does a book come along that warrants me to write a review. This isn't to say that the stories are bad but never has a book moved or impressed upon me such a feeling of fullness like this one. Written when sequels were becoming the rage, this book stands out as a lily among dandelions. It does not need a sequel to convey the message that we should all be grateful and cherish our loved ones. A true masterpiece, one that I know I will definitely share with my children and hopefully they will share to their children to come.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it

Stories want to be told, and this is a good one -- twisted fairy tales intersperse the larger story of David and his trip into his own story. I found the narrator to be excellent; the story was suitable for both adults and young adults. This was such an enjoyable book, I could not put it down. If you like fairy tales with a twist of darkness, you will like this one.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Beautifully dark and magical

This was one of those tales that you never want to end. I just wanted to crawl inside it and stay. It was dark and creepy and lovely all at the same time. Beautifully written and read.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Not for the Faint of Heart

“The Book of Lost Things,” by John Connelly, is a fairy story about fairy stories—and not the kind that necessarily turn out happily ever after. More the Grimm kind, where virtue isn’t always rewarded, but evil is always savagely punished. It shows again that fairy stories are primordial, ancient, bred in the bone.

David, our protagonist, is a 10-year-old English boy who loses his beloved mother in the opening days of WWII. His father and he do as well as they can together, but then David’s father marries Rose and they have a baby boy, Georgie. None of this goes down well with David, who is grieving, angry, jealous, resentful and lonely. He also starts seeing strange things like a crooked old man lurking in his brother’s room, and begins having fits.

The one solace David finds in his new situation is the books in his room. They are fairy stories, but different from the ones he has read before—darker and more disturbing. He asks Rose about them, and she tells him they belonged to a great uncle who had loved the books, but he and a young female relative had disappeared one day and were never seen again.

One night David is awakened by his mother’s voice calling him. He knows his mother is dead, but his desire that this not be true is so powerful that he wanders into a neglected sunken garden. The voice seems to be issuing from a hole beneath a great tree there. As David hesitates, he hears the screaming of a bomber overhead, disabled, on fire, and heading right for him. He dives into the hole beneath the tree and discovers himself in a strange land as the bomber crashes through and David’s escape route is blocked. Just to let you know that the story to come will not be about sweet little creatures with butterfly wings, the pilot’s head bounces by David after the crash, blackened and bloody.

David soon discovers that a great evil is growing in this new land. A wolf army is gathering, led by the Loup, half man, half wolf. The Crooked Man is here as well, and seems to want something from David. The dangers here are genuine and they are deadly. The author doesn’t flinch at detailed descriptions of some truly grotesque and bloody deaths.

Amid the growing darkness, David also meets some good people who help him. One of them tells him to seek out the king of this land because he has “The Book of Lost Things” that will help David to return home. “The Book of Lost Things” doesn’t help him to find his home, but it does clear up the central mysteries of the story, pointing David to the truth of the Crooked Man and his agenda.

David proves he is brave, loyal, and resourceful. He discovers that not everything is what it seems, and learns to be discriminating about whom he trusts—a single misstep could be fatal. In the process, he solves the mystery of what happened to Rose’s great-uncle and his young relative, and of course realizes his mistake in rejecting Rose and Georgie. By the time David finds the way home, we feel he has earned his return many times over.

The book follows David’s life after this event. It was not a life free from pain or unhappiness, but he finds love, comfort and a purpose in life. At the end—I’ll let you read the book to find out what happens at the very end. Like a good fairy story, the end wraps everything up in a most satisfactory way.

I would have to say that ‘The Book of Lost Things” is not for the faint of heart. Although the protagonist is a child and the source material is fairy stories, it is definitely not a children’s tale. I might even hesitate to recommend it to a teenager, particularly if they were going through a Goth phase. There is a lot of violence, a pervasive sense of creeping evil, and many adult themes. I would have to say that it cleaves to the original tenor of the ancient stories, though. The old fairy tales are dark and primeval. They have nothing to do with living happily ever after or marrying the prince. They teach us to beware the evil in the dark and the forces we do not comprehend. “The Book of Lost Things” is that kind of fairy tale.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful