Year Published: 2006
Genre: Dark Fantasy
I have never read Connolly before, but after this book I plan to read more. I really liked this book. Set during World War II, it features a pre-teenaged boy who is grieving his mother's death while trying to get used to his father's new wife and son. David is a good boy, but he is struggling with his jealousy and bitterness. He also seems to have mental issues (he demonstrates OCD-like behaviors, and also has seizures) and believes the books in his room are talking to one another. An avid reader, David was raised on the fairy tales his mother read to him. After a particularly nasty fight with his father and stepmother, he finds himself in another world--one that seems to be a mixture of all the fairy tales he has read, as well as other books. While there, he is forced to face his fears and battle a number of villians while trying to get back to his world.
There are many reasons I enjoyed this book so much. First of all, I love archetypical symbolism, and this book is littered with it. The world is David's subconcious fears as told through all that he's read. At the end, the author expounds on all the stories he chose to include, including their history, their meaning, and other variations of them. Secondly, it was so clever. The stories are twisted to fit David's life in ways that are sometimes disturbing and often amusing. I loved the seven dwarves being Communists--because David had read a book on Communism. Third, the story was suspenseful and fascinating. This was not a book for children. There was lots of violence, and it was dark and foreboding. Most of the characters David encountered were evil at best; many were vile. The world was alive and frightening, a mixture of our world and something foreign, reminiscent to me of Stephen King's Dark Tower world (which Connolly referenced in the end, as pertaining to the poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came"). But I like that kind of stuff! I hope that Connolly's other work is as fascinating and enjoyable as this.
Challenge: R.I.P. III
Book-a-Week #: 42
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