John Connolly Loses Things...

Snow White and her seven buddies add a Pythonesque comedy touch.

Feature by Ellie Wixon | 13 Oct 2006
John Connolly is a master of authorship. Since his first book 'Every Dead
Thing' was published in 1999, the Dublin writer has captivated and
enthralled audiences.

Famous for his PI Charlie Parker novels, he has made brief ventures into other realms of fiction. His short story collection, 'Nocturnes', and some of his earlier books, particularly 'Dark Hollow', made use of elements from fairy tales. In his most recent novel, 'The Book Of Lost Things', he explores these tales and weaves some of the darker ones into his story. When asked why he uses fairy tales, John replies, "There's something very elemental about these stories. They have survived for a long time, and are present in many different cultures, and to dismiss them merely as harmless tales for kids is a little unfair. I think they provide a means through which children can begin to interpret and understand the world, and their own place in it. On one level, they teach children that it's okay to feel fear, anger, and grief, as long as you use strategies to enable you to work through those feelings and, in the process, begin to enter adulthood. The attraction of certain stories will depend a lot upon a child's own experiences, so children bring something of themselves to the tales, and transform them by doing so. On an adult level, though, one of the tenets of Jungian therapy is a belief in the importance of finding stories from childhood that explain the adult that one has become."

Describing 'The Book of Lost Things' as a gem is an understatement: it's a masterpiece. A well-executed and stylishly written tale, John has pulled out all the stops to produce a wonderful adventure to get lost in. David is a boy who goes through a tough time when his mother dies and his father re-marries. He finds solace in books, especially fairy tales. After moving into his stepmother's house things get worse for David as he starts to hear voices and has blackouts. Eventually his relationship with his stepmother deteriorates and affects his already waning relationship with his father. One night he hears the voice of his dead mother coming from the garden and decides to investigate. Then things get really strange, as David is sucked into a parallel world of fairy tales gone bad. Sorcery, trolls, brave knights, werewolves and even Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs appear, as well as a mysterious figure known as 'The Crooked Man'. John says, "It's a book about childhood for adults, I think. While older kids could certainly read it, I do think that they will read it in a different way from an adult. It is very much written in an adult voice, and by the end of the book its adult nature becomes fairly clear. Then again, I'm not sure that the distinction between adult and young adult fiction is very relevant once you start talking about fifteen and sixteen year-olds".

I, personally, loved this book for its adventure, humour and dark narrative. The Crooked Man is a truly evil creature, full of spite and cruel acts, and Snow White and her seven buddies add a Pythonesque comedy touch. 'The Book of Lost Things' aims to be, and is, a classic fairy tale complete with a moral that should be a lesson to all of us - value your brother or sister.

For fans of John's Charlie Parker novels the wait will soon be over as 'The Unquiet' will be due out May 2007. "It's a different beast from 'The Black Angel'. It's quite contemplative, at least for the first half, and deals with a very human evil. I think I wanted to write something with fewer flashes and bangs, and I've always tried to make each book a little different from its predecessors." We will await its arrival with bated breath…

Having recently put in appearances at the Harrogate Crime Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival John is going to be touring the UK, the US, South Africa and Europe. "I do enjoy it, but I've started to find it pretty exhausting in recent years, and it's also time that I could spend writing. I find that I can't write when I'm touring, so I end up feeling a bit guilty!"
Published by Hodder and Stoughton. Out Now. Cover Price £12.99.