I loved it.
Connolly's book is strikingly beautiful and completely compelling. The whole thing was a surprise. Before writing it, Connolly was a genre fiction writer - a writer of pulp mysteries. The Book of Lost Things is a complete departure from that, but it feels like something that was meant to be. Like the sort of writing the author must have been perfecting over a lifetime.
On the surface, The Book of Lost Things is genre fiction - a young adult fantasy not so very different from the Harry Potter books. But closer inspection reveals something more. For one thing, it's a book about fairy tales and about myth. It references so many other books and stories, the intertextuality might make your head spin. That alone makes it impressive.
The premise is simple. A young protagonist battles his way through a fantasy world populated by characters like Little Red Riding Hood, the Woodsman and Sleeping Beauty, and grows up and learns something along the way. But Connolly's representations of familiar characters are twisted and dark, and frankly, much more complex and memorable than you might expect. In this book, everything stands for something else, but that's one of the things that makes it challenging and hard to put down.
In the end, The Book of Lost Things is about growing up. It's about everything we leave behind, everything we forget. It's about loss in general. Loss is, after all, a constant. The older we get, the more we have, and therefore, the more we have to lose. And we'll keep losing and losing until the things we've lost outnumber the things we have, which won't mean we'll be unhappy. Quite the contrary, actually.
It's all very heavy and sad, but it's touching too. And true. And most importantly, absolutely worth reading.