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Literature / The Book of Lost Things

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The Book of Lost Things is a novel written by John Connolly.

After the death of his mother, twelve-year old David struggles to deal with his father remarrying and the birth of a new child. Feeling alone, he goes to his books for company. Soon he is propelled into a world that is both imaginary and real, a strange reflection of his own world composed of myths and stories, populated by wolves and worse-than-wolves, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a legendary book... The Book of Lost Things.


The novel contains examples of:

  • Age Without Youth - Jonathan Tulvey.
  • And I Must Scream - The fate of many of the Crooked Man's victims.
  • Batman Gambit: David pulls up an epic one against the Huntress, while strapped to an operating table: he tells her about centaurs, who were great hunters, and convinces her to become a centaur, fusing her torso to a horse's legs, bargaining for a map back to the right path in the process. Though she anticipates David betraying her, keeping a knife handy and still tying him to the operating table, David uses the knife she gave him to pin her to the table and cut his own ropes. He was only planning to run and get a headstart, but all her still-living victims then return.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For - A greedy and gluttonous man requests that the Crooked Man pay him in gold the weight of everything that he has eaten at a buffet. The Crooked Man pouring molten gold down his throat.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: David manages to defeat the Crooked Man and return to his own world, but the costs of war and reality eventually hit him. At the end of his life, he rejoins his dead wife and child in the fairy tale land, along with the Hunter.
  • Body Horror - Many examples abound but the Huntress' "creations" and the Crooked Man's body falling apart come to mind.
  • Bury Your Gays - The knight Roland, who is trying to find out what happened to his lost lover, Raphael. He is, of course, dead. Roland ends up dying as well, once he finds out what happened.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: And a big one for David, who matures from a sullen, grieving twelve-year old to a precocious, appreciate Guile Hero.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Jonathan Tulvey.
  • Disney Death - The Huntsman, who returns safe and sound at the end after apparently being killed by the Loups early on.
  • Deal with the Devil - Any deal with the Crooked Man.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole
  • Driven to Madness - A common result of the Crooked Man's tortures, usually after being Forced to Watch.
  • Eldritch Abomination - The Beast.
  • Evil vs. Evil - The Crooked Man and the Loups both want David for their own reasons.
  • Forced to Watch - The Crooked Man's favorite method of torture.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale - Much of the book fits under this.
  • Guile Hero: David finds himself becoming one as he crosses the paths of crooked and twisted fairy tales.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game - The Huntress surgically combines children with animals to heighten the thrill of the hunt.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate - Jonathan Tulvey, who wants to die but can only grow progressively older.
  • I Should Write a Book About This - At the end, it states that the book you're reading is the one David wrote. It then gets confusing because things happen in the end that don't happen until after he wrote it and published. So you're reading things in his book that the character says he wrote but couldn't have despite actually happening.
  • Jackass Genie - The Crooked Man functions as this; see Be Careful What You Wish For.
  • Little Red Riding Hood - In this version, Red Riding Hood seduces The Big Bad Wolf and later gives birth to the first Loup. She later has other woman couple with wolves, some willingly and some by force.
  • Karmic Death: The Huntress gets killed by the children she combined with animals.
  • The Lost Woods
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles - David and the Woodsman mark the tree though which David arrives with a string. The Crooked Man, rather than simply remove the string, ties strings to all of the trees in the area.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: One could rationally explain David's adventures as Adventures in Comaland after the plane crash injured him. It still doesn't explain how, as he reaches the end of his life, that he's able to go back to that world.
  • Parting Words Regret: David and Rose both suffer this after their fight, namely in that David during the events of the book is also in a coma. Rose spends days by David's bedside until he awakens David realizes that he can't wish for his mother to come back or resent innocent Georgie for coming along during a bad time.
  • Rumpelstiltskin - The Crooked Man is implied to be him.
  • Soul Jar - A literal example. The Crooked Man's life is sustained via the soul of a child that he keeps in a jar.
  • Sssssnaketalk - The witch posing as Rose speaks like this after undergoing Glamour Failure.
  • Stay on the Path - David is warned to stay off the road; when he strays to pick an apple, he is captured by a hunter.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different - The Loups, wolf/man hybrids that come from the coupling of wolves and women.
  • Villainous Breakdown - The Crooked Man essentially tears himself in half after being thwarted by David.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever? - The fate of Jonathan Tulvey.
  • The Worm That Walks - Sort of. When the Crooked Man tears himself apart, bugs and worms fall out.
  • Would Hurt a Child - There are very few who wouldn't.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real - Much of the world is derived from David's and Jonathan's fears. The Loups were created from the latter, so when Leroi finally kills Jonathan, he (as well as the rest of the Loups), falls apart and ceases to exist.

Example of: