August 2016 Club

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Not for the faint of heart, The Book of Lost Things is an adult fairy tale in which the protagonist – a twelve-year-old boy called David – finds himself in a magical land inhabited by woodsmen, knights, trolls, wolves, terrifying hybrid creatures, witches, harpies and a king in his castle.

Connolly cleverly weaves together David’s wartime home where he lives with his dad, step-mother and step-brother with the fantasy land of Elsewhere into which he sinks after suffering deep psychological stress following the death of his beloved mother.

The author uses various devices to build credibility such as giving David a form of OCD to link his actions to his mother’s fate; his love of folk and fairy tales and a room full of books which start to talk to him “the world of the old tales existed parallel to ours… but sometimes the wall separating the two became so thin and brittle that the two worlds started to blend into each other.”

David lurches from one terrifying adventure to another – from escaping a pack of wolves and human-wolves called Loups by using his fast logic to work out which bridge across a deep gorge guarded by trolls and harpies is safe to cross, to cunningly escaping from being dissected by a cruel old crone fascinated with creating child-animal hybrids. He meets some familiar fairy tale characters such as Snow White, Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty whose tales are reinvented in the darkest of ways.

David grows in strength and bravery, from a powerless and frightened small boy, with every scary step into this ever-shifting unpredictable world with an uneasy feeling that something dark is following him. It’s essential to read to the end to discover what this dark, violent force is and what cruelty it’s capable of. Suffice to say, a child’s imagination is a powerful thing indeed. As is that of the author who has brilliantly created a world filled with questions – all of which are answered as the loose ends are expertly tied up. Connolly has certainly sandblasted the gloss off the conventional children’s fairytale.

There’s a great couple of lines which express the darkness in this book to some extent:

“That’s what “ran away and was never seen again” means in these parts. It means “eaten”. “Um, and what about “happily ever after?” asked David, a little uncertainly. “What does that mean?” “Eaten quickly”.

Colourway inspiration

For the semi-solid colourway, I wanted to represent the army of wolves and Loups which are a threat throughout the novel. There were winter wolves from the north, black wolves from the east and grey wolves from the forests to the west – so I went for a silvery grey and overdyed it with a taupe-grey. I called it Lupine.

For the variegated colourway, I dyed a section of each skein a dark grey-black to represent the darkness within the pages. I then added a silver grey and a taupe grey and sprinkled in a blood red and some brown for the endless trees, leaving a bit of white on some of the skeins to represent the snow. Apart from the dark section, these are otherwise dyed randomly, and hopefully convey some deep swirling land called Elsewhere.

The yarn base is Ravish which is a heady mix of merino, silk and cashmere.