I’m convinced that fairy tales were meant to be played around with. Perhaps this isn’t the most appropriate term, but that seems to best describe John Connolly’s novel, The Book of Lost Things. Possible reasons that fairy tales seem to scream out “change me” or “update me” could be that they are relatively old. We don’t necessarily know exactly when they originated. Many of them probably originated through spoken word and were changed frequently before they were ever written down and then perhaps they continued to be changed throughout the generations to come. Or perhaps they express ideas and concepts that are inherently human; and therefore, we can’t seem to stop going back to them. These are simply guesses. I’m not a fairy tale expert.
This is the first book that I’ve read that I discovered from another blog. Lily Wight gave the book a decent, although slightly mixed, review. I was intrigued by the premise so I gave it a try.
The Book of Lost Things is the third story in a row that I’ve read where wolves play an important role. David, the young boy and hero of the novel, encounters unusual creatures called Loups. According to a story his friend, The Woodsman, tells him, they are the descendents of a union between Little Red Riding Hood and a certain Big Bad Wolf. Call me old-fashioned but this was just a little creepy.
The novel turns Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on its ear in an hilarious turn. The dwarves advocate the oppressed working class and desparately want to get out from under Snow White’s enormous appetite. The wicked stepmother who got the blame for Snow White’s extended nap, actually had an alibi, while the real culprits were found out when a meddling prince showed up to ruin things. As humorous as this section of the novel was, it was a completely different tone from the rest of the book, making the novel seem disjointed.
However, David’s story resonated with me to a certain degree. As a boy in England during the start of World War II, life was rough for him. He found comfort in the books in his bedroom. As strange happenings took place, he was wisked away into the world of his books and stories. It was in this strange world that he faced his demons: fear, grief, anger, jealousy. He came back from this place a better person and better able to deal with the twists and turns life gave him.
And I just thought of another reason fairy tales can be updated, changed and played with – you can’t get sued by The Brothers Grimm.