In his new novel, The Land of Lost Things, John Connolly frequently breaks the fourth wall to discuss the role of story in our lives and the purpose of the human habit of telling each other tales over campfires or in dimly lit rooms at bedtime.
This novel is a sequel to his book The Book of Lost Things, which also becomes a character here – the book itself and the story it tells. This is risky business and might seem overweening in another author’s hands, but here it makes a certain degree of sense. It’s quite clever in that by inserting the first book into the narrative, Connolly saves himself the trouble of explaining it.
It also serves his story, because in the world of Connolly’s creation, stories continue, they don’t necessarily stop and start where human readers and authors say so.
“The universe of the book … was extending its reach into her consciousness, because that was what books did. She shouldn’t have been surprised or frightened, it was just the way of them.”
The “she” in question here is Ceres, whose young daughter is in hospital after being hit by a car. Ceres is a single mother and Phoebe is her world; she has become somewhat untethered by her daughter’s prolonged coma. Over time she begins to think the unthinkable – maybe it would be better if… – and attracts the attention of creatures all too happy to grant her wish, one way or another.
After reading The Book of Lost Things, Ceres is drawn into the fairy tale world it describes and meets characters from legend, dryads, giants and harpies. Even Rapunzel appears, her tower surrounded by the bodies of those who have tried to “rescue” her – killed by her own hand.
Ceres is not entirely unprepared for the world, her father was a scholar who immersed himself in tales of fairies and their like, and who passed them on to his daughter (when her mother wasn’t listening). His were cautionary tales, Ceres was brought up to know the Fae were not silly fluff to be trusted or trifled with.
Ceres is attacked within hours of entering the world by a dryad, who poisons her. A friendly woodcutter, who takes Ceres on a journey through the forest to find a cure. On the way they find signs that the Fae are rising, and so is the Crooked Man – an evil being many thought had been dealt with permanently in The Book of Lost Things and who has an offer he doesn’t think Ceres can refuse.
It is not necessary to have read The Book of Lost Things to appreciate its sequel. The Land of Lost Things is a treasure trove for lovers of fairy tales – especially the dark side of the story, one not prettied up by dancing mice and happy dwarfs. One can imagine curling up in a blanket by a fire on a cold night and waiting impatiently while Grandpa lights his pipe before he launches into the story. It is old and new and a complete delight.
About the Author
John Connolly is the author of the #1 internationally bestselling Charlie Parker thrillers series, the supernatural collection Nocturnes, the Samuel Johnson Trilogy for younger readers, and (with Jennifer Ridyard) the Chronicles of the Invaders series. He lives in Dublin, Ireland. For more information, see his website at JohnConnollyBooks.com, or follow him on Twitter @JConnollyBooks.
- Publisher : Atria/Emily Bestler Books (Sept. 19 2023)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1668022281
- ISBN-13 : 978-1668022283