Guest Post: A Book That Scares Victoria Schwab

(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)

By Victoria Schwab, author of THE NEAR WITCH

“You mean they killed her?” asked David.

“They ate her,” said Brother Number One. “With porridge. 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,” said Brother Number One.

―John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things

From Goodreads:

“High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own—populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things. Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.”

The Book of Lost Things combines fairy tales, history, humor, and terror—both the childhood something-under-the-bed kind, and a much-harder-to-define unease. It remains one of my favorite books of all time. And as such, I always have a hard time describing why. Perhaps it’s my personal love of fairy tales, and my penchant for anything that takes something precious and twists it into something morbid. I grew up on Grimm, and this is a book that doesn’t shy from fairy tales’ dark origins. It is sick, and twisted, and spectacular.

Connolly pays homage to the classics, refers to everyone from Snow White (who closer resembles Jabba the Hut) to Goldilocks, but also twists the archetypal cast into his own demented arsenal. The Huntress, who kills various animals and children and stitches them back together to make new sport, is one such creation. The villainous Crooked Man comes straight out of a British children’s poem (There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile/ He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile/ He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse/ And they all lived together in a little crooked house) but in Connolly’s hands he is far, far more terrifying than his humble poetic origins.

The Book of Lost Things is like one of those pictures that changes when you turn it. Tilt it one way and it’s a children’s book. Tip it another and it’s a grisly work for adults. It is ambiguous and daring, gruesome and lovely. Whether you love fairy tales, or gore, things that go bump or whisper in your ear or give you nightmares, this book has all of that and more. Somehow, in the midst of everything else, it has heart. Do not miss this book.

Victoria Schwab is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes,” “like,” and “y’all.” She loves fairy tales, and folklore, and books that make her wonder if the world is really as it seems. Her first novel, The Near Witch, is in stores everywhere.

Visit Victoria at

Follow @veschwab on Twitter.

Comment on this guest blog and you’ll gain an extra entry for the big Halloween giveaway on October 31, containing prize packs of signed books plus books and ARCs donated by my publisher Penguin Teen!  


Here’s a sneak peek of some books I’m giving away:

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