The thing about this book is that I cannot decide if I like it or not. Right now I think I dislike it. I was compelled to read it but I was also disturbed and depressed by it.
Too soon after the death of his beloved mother to a painful and lingering disease, David is horrified when his father begins a relationship with a woman, Rose. David begins to have spells in which he blacks out. When his father remarries and Rose has a baby, the situation is only made worse. David's jealously and hatred of Rose and his new brother push him into a world where books talk to him and he descends into madness. His journey is both horror fairy tale and thrilling adventure.
This book is not for the squeamish. It is filled with disturbing images and violence. It is set at the beginning of World War II and is both an allegory of what living through the atrocities of that war must have been like and for the passage into adulthood from childhood. I believe it takes place entirely in David's mind during one of his spells and I enjoyed the way reality peeked in every now and then.
I loved the creativity and imagination that made up the story and would have given it 5 stars if it hadn't been so grotesque. This is definitely NOT for children. After writing this, I read many other reviews and it seems that in some editions of this book there is a section in the back written by Connolly about this book. I am glad that this was not in the book I read as I think it would have lessened the experience for me.