Customer Review

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy Adventure, 14 Feb. 2007
This review is from: The Book of Lost Things (Hardcover)
This is a lovely book. It takes teenager David on an adventure through a fantasy world and a journey along the path from childhood to adulthood. In some ways it reads like a reworking of Wizard of Oz, except that the different aspects of David's personality are integrated in one person (unlike Dorothy's, which appear externally - in the scarecrow, the lion and the tin man). All the same, David has to develop and learn to use cunning/brains (when he solves the riddle of the two bridges), strength and courage (when he defeats the monster in the village), and, hardest of all, love for his step family, before he can defeat his enemies and return home. There are references to various fairy tales and nursery rhymes - some of them twisted and quite dark.

I've marked it down to 4 stars because, for me at least, it reads like teen fiction - it's basically a thriller given a fantasy setting and a little bit of a message - and this book doesn't match up to the best of fantasy fiction (eg the Narnia books, or Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials Trilogy). The material is rich enough to carry so much more. For instance we could have been asked to question (just a little) our notions of right and wrong - ie is it always "good" to kill our enemies? Without wanting to give the end away, it would have been nice to have been left with a question mark over whether the ending was really "morally right".
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Apr 2011 21:14:53 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Apr 2011 21:16:03 BDT
Eileen Shaw says:
I don't agree that this book doesn't match up to the stable of current fantasy books - on the contrary, I think it more than did so and had quite a consciously more adult theme in part - certainly terrifying, cleverly threatening, the main worry being that David will be tricked into revealing the name of his little half-brother, thus allowing the crooked man to capture him. There are some heavy and dark old folk-tales threaded through this story, some of which you seemed to have missed the significance of.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Apr 2011 18:37:38 BDT
H. Ashford says:
Gosh, it's so long since I read this book that I can't remember very much about it. I do remember though that I enjoyed it, and I do remember thinking that it would have been better (for me as an adult, that is) if there had been more doubt over what was the "right" thing to do.

I'm sure you are right about the folk tales - I do mention them in my review, but I am willing to accept your assertion that I didn't fully grasp their significance.

I still have this book on the shelves, as my daughter is now of an age to read and enjoy it, so as and when she does read it I will probably re-read it myself. Here's hoping I get more out of it second time round!

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Apr 2011 09:19:16 BDT
Eileen Shaw says:
I'd hesitate to give it to your daughter if I were you. My daughter is extremely unbookish, unfortunately. If I couldn't remember having her I'd doubt she was mine (sorry, old family joke). There is some memory of when I was reading it where I felt quite disturbed by one of the female characters, even though I can't remember anything overt happening. There was the suggestion of something...

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Apr 2011 20:29:53 BDT
H. Ashford says:
Well, she's 14, she can probably cope. But thank you for the warning; I will definitely make an effort to read it when she does, so that I can talk it over with her.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Apr 2011 23:13:50 BDT
Eileen Shaw says:
Ah - at 14 one is still a little vulnerable, but if she's anything like the 14 yr-olds I know she probably thinks anything even vaguely sexual is utterly gross - a profoundly sensible attitude for a 14 yr-old. You're probably wise to discuss it - if you can get her to admit to having an opinion at all. Sorry, I probably sound utterly teenager-weary - which I am at the moment. I will love them all tomorrow (maybe).

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Apr 2011 13:51:00 BDT
H. Ashford says:
My 14 year old is 14 going on 21! She back-seat-drives already (although she's to young to have had even one driving lesson!). We have been watching The Crimson Petal and The White together, and she hasn't even batted an eyelid at the sex scenes - not even to be embarrassed at watching them with me in the same room.
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Location: Sheffield, UK

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