Although The Book of Lost Things is a dark fairytale story, it won the 2007 Alex Award which honors 10 adult books that appeal to (mature) teen readers. The story is about 12 year old David who finds a portal to an alternate world and then goes on a quest to find the King and his “Book of Lost Things” so that he might return home. Along the way, he meets many terrifying creatures, faces assorted tests of courage, and learns valuable lessons.
I was very excited about reading this novel, but I had to really fight my way through the first 50 pages because a) the mother dies and b) some scenes are very claustrophobic. The atmosphere is very creepy (thanks in part to the Crooked Man) and the fairytales retold here are darker than even Grimm. Some scenes work better than others – I was fascinated by the Woodsman, the Loups (half man, half wolf creatures), the huntress, the Crooked Man’s lair and the king's own story but thought the middle part with the knight Roland kind of sagged (and seemed rather pointless to the story overall).
The overall tone and story themes reminded me a lot of the movie “Pan’s Labyrinth”. For my taste, I would rate this book slightly higher (though I admire them both).
Connolly also includes 130 pages of notes about the fairytales, myths and legends he researched for this book. So if you like fairytales and don’t mind them dark, this book is for you.