We read The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly with our YA book club, a book about escaping to a world filled with dark fairy tales. Some of us really liked it, while others were more critical, but we all agreed that fairy tales remain interesting. Here we recommend you two books for further reading, one book that will fit right in with the YA-theme and another that is supposedly for grown-ups, but awesome for everyone. At the end we also have some possible discussion questions for anyone talking about this book with their own book club.
A lot of us liked the subverted fairy tales in The Book of Lost Things. If you like the changed views on old stories such as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, then definitely give Kissing the Witch a try. Just like The Book of Lost Things it’s balances between young adult and adult reading. This story collection is supposed to be one of the best in subverting the fairy tale themes, and not just the particulars of the story. Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire.
All the stories are told from the perspective of fairy tale heroines, all spinning their own versions of their tales of love and hate, passion and deception.
Our second and final recommendation is a very sad book. It’s based on an old Russian folk tale that Ivey reworked into something that reads like a fairy tale.
The story is based in Alaska in the 1920’s. A brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
Possible Discussion Questions:
– Do you think the violence adds to the fairy tales?
– Does the fairy tale world actually exist?
– What is the importance of WWII as the backdrop for this story?
– Do you believe that David could defeat the Crooked Man?