Saturday, September 5, 2015

THE LOST – SARAH BETH DURST

This fantasy novel did not seem to be my particular cup of tea, but come to find out, I liked it after all. Try not to judge me but when I saw the publisher was Harlequin I prepared to hate it. Why be such a book snob you ask? Indoctrination by my parents would be a good guess. On the day my librarian father saw me reading a Harlequin Romance (I was 12) and expressed his disappointment I never touched another one and remained repulsed by them ever since. But Harlequin has been purchased by Rupert Murdoch and is now run by HarperCollins so perhaps I should lighten up a bit?

The Lost was actually a fun tale of a young woman named Lauren Chase who slips into an alternate dimension where all the people are lost or have lost something important to their being. They all want to go on or go home and are aided by two important community members, The Finder, and The Missing Man. The Finder is Peter, a beautiful, muscular, tattooed young man whose job it is to find people and things and bring them to the city of Lost. The Missing Man helps the stranded travelers to sort out why they are lost and how to go on. It seemed a bit Neil Gaiman-ish to me, or anyway reminded me of The Ocean at the end of the Lane which also deals with places not visible to everyone and magical beings helping or hindering poor souls.

Lauren wants to go home where her mother is terminally ill with cancer and needs her but she isn't able to until she finds what it is she has lost. Her quest involves helping others in the village, but some villagers are intent on her demise. So, there is adventure, danger, intrigue, and a bit of romance.

The writing was clever and witty and the interjection of literary references, mainly from Peter “The Finder” and consort of Lauren, was fun. The first fun quotation though was not literary, it was:
Work is the daily activity that sucks your soul but pays your bills. It’s the path your feet walked down while your head was stuck in the clouds,”
which is what Lauren says to Tiffany, the girl who mans the hotel desk in the village of Lost. I also much enjoyed this response of Lauren's when she is told she has lost something important on page 66:
“But I haven't lost anything. Yes, I've lost socks and earrings. I've left a book on the bus and an umbrella in a restaurant. I've lost track of friends. But I've lost no more than anyone else in the world. Less than many.”
Much of what Peter says is made up of quotations from poems, the Bible, fairy-tales, and children's books and they always fit the moment perfectly. I am not sure I caught them all but the following are those I recognize:

  • Pg 24 Lauren refers to a lady in the Moonlight Diner in a “Dorothy Gale dress,” which is a reference to The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum.
  • Pg 42 Peter references the fairytales Hansel & Gretel and Red Riding Hood.
  • Pg 43 Lauren compares Peter to King Sisyphus in Greek mythology who was made to endlessly roll a huge boulder up a steep hill. Zeus had enchanted the boulder into rolling away from Sisyphus just before he reached the top.

  • Pg 43 Peter's reference to a damsel in distress & his being a knight is probably from Tales of King Arthur by Pyle.

  • Pg 46 Lauren talks about the abandoned houses as if they are in The Wizard of Oz.

  • Pg 54 “To quote a certain cat, ‘we’re all mad here,”  Merry says to Lauren in the diner, which is from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

  • Pg 64 “Are you Voldemort?” Tiffany says to Lauren which is a reference to Harry Potter by Rowling.

  • Pg 69 “Will you walk into my parlor? Said the spider to the fly. Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy,” Is what Peter cites to Lauren referencing a children's poem by Mary Howitt.

  • Pg 73 Peter makes a reference to the curious cat from Alice in Wonderland.

  • Pg 96 Peter says, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in,” referencing The 3 Little Pigs fairytale.

  • Pg 97 Peter says,All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust,” from J. M. Barrie's book Peter Pan.

  • Pg 100 Peter says, “How dreary – to be – Somebody!” which Lauren completes on pg 101 and is from Emily Dickinson's poem “I'm Nobody, Who are You?”

  • Pg 110 Peter reminds Lauren of Peter in Peter Pan by James Barrie.

  • Pg 110 Peter refers to Claire as “Goldie-locks” of fairytale fame.

  • Pg 115 Peter says, “The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them,” which is a reference to Isaiah 11:6 in The Bible.

  • Pg 129 Peter sings the nursery song “Hush Little Baby” to Claire.

  • Pg 146 Peter quotes, “Because they could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for them” which is a parody of Emily Dickinson's poem “Because I Could not Stop or Death.”

  • Pg 150 Peter reminds Lauren to remember, “Not all those who wander are lost.” which is Gandalf in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

  • Pg 151 Peter says, If they come back they're yours. If they don't they never were." and then Lauren thinks, “"If you love someone, set them free."” That's the start of that quote,” which in that form may be from the book Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, but there are multiple other similar versions and no one knows for sure where it originated.

  • Pg 165 Peter says, “If you believe clap your hands, don't let Tink die,” from Peter Pan.

  • Pg 166 Peter says to Lauren, what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope,” which is from George Eliot's Middlemarch.

  • Pg180 Peter quotes part of the poem She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron to Lauren.

  • Pg 182 Peter quotes, “Why can't you fly now, Mother?... to Lauren and it is from Peter Pan.

  • Pg 185 Peter says, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven,” which is from Paradise Lost by John Milton

  • Pg 188 Peter talks about Sean's meatloaf by quoting Act V scene 8 of Shakespeare's Macbeth when Macbeth confronts Macduff in his castle, “lay on, Macduff; And damn'd be him that first cries, "Hold, enough!"

  • Pg 191 Peter refers to Lauren as Persephone from Greek mythology. Zeuss' daughter and queen of the underworld.

  • Pg 200 Peter sings, “Eat drink and be merry...” from 1 Corinthians 15:32 of the Bible.

  • Pg 201 Peter quotes Emily Dickinson again from her poem, “Hope is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul.”

  • Pg 209 Lauren refers to the story in the New Testament Matthew 8:24 of the ship at Galillee when Jesus slept through the storm.

  • Pg 243 Colin's name is from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • Pg 264 Peter refers to his “unbirthday surprise,” which refers to the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

  • Pg 277 another referral to Alice in Wonderland when Peter says, “Wrong as usual, said the Red Queen...”

  • Pg 299 Lauren's mother refers to several children's stories rabbits particularly Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh by a.A. Milne, but also Peter from the Beatrix Potter series, Uncle Wiggley by Garris, Thumper in Bambi by Salten, Brier Rabbit by Harris, Bugs Bunny by Disney, Edward Tulane by DiCamillo, Velveteen Rabbit by Williams, Bunnicula by Howe, and Harvey an old movie.
Those are the ones I caught, and I may have missed some but it was fun. The ending didn't feel quite satisfying to me but I understand she left the novel open for a sequel. 

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