This creepy fairy tale is the story of one twelve year old boy named David, who is deeply troubled by the recent loss of his mother. On top of this, David's father becomes intimate with another woman just months later, remarries, and the two of them have another son. When David and his father move into his stepmother Rose's old family home, David is still mourning his mother and feeling resentful and jealous of his stepmother and new baby brother. In addition, his country is at war (WWII), which for his father means late nights at work, and Georgie, the new baby, keeps both parents sleep deprived and on edge. It's a rough time in general, and David's emotional problems make this domestic scene worse.
David and his mother shared a love for books, and with this knowledge, the good-intentioned Rose gives David the room that once belonged to her great uncle Jonathan, because it still contains so many of the books her uncle loved, and David seems to be so much like him. David later learns that Jonathan, along with an adopted little sister, wandered off one day and the two were never seen again. It was a family tragedy that was never explained.
Until now. This is a coming-of-age fairy tale in which a boy is lured away by an evil force, but fights his way back to return as a young man. David's character is transformed through his adventures and the lessons he learns about life and himself along the way. The adventures that John Connolly conjures are very scary, the characters fascinating. I'm impressed. Many of the situations are recognizable distortions of familiar fairy tales; take one of the Grimm stories and turn it into a more adult, grotesque nightmare, and you get the general idea. This tale is paced well, and I enjoyed reading it. I was in the mood for something very different and I found it!
The reason I remembered to read a book I've had for quite awhile--The Book of Lost Things came out in 2006-- was that Connolly has a new book out this year, which reminded me that I was supposed to read nine books published in 2009 this year. I have only read a third of that, which sounds better than stating that um, I've read three 2009 books. So, going forward, I will only be reading 2009 books, until I've read at least most of the ones I really really want to read.