Before I get to the review, I have some news: It’s been long overdue, but I’ve started a newsletter. On the second Tuesday of the month, The Ghostly Tome will come to your inbox offering you a plethora of various exclusives including process insights, current projects, and excerpts, among other things.
Alright, enough of that, let’s get to the review shall we?
“As one, every doll along the hallway slowly turned its head to stare at me.” ~ The Collector
Synopsis: It’s not easy for Josie to move to her grandmother’s house in the middle of nowhere and start all over in a new school. Especially when her grandmother isn’t all there anymore, insisting that Josie and her sister follow three weird rules (no dolls, no open windows at night, and no playing near the house in the woods). The nightmares aren’t helping either. But things are made easier when Josie meets Vanessa. Impossibly cool and kind, Josie finally has a friend. Life is starting to feel a little more normal. But when Vanessa invites Josie to her house in the woods, Josie comes to realize that there’s more to her nightmares, her grandmother’s warnings, and to Vanessa. Unfortunately, Josie is short on time, and the woods are deadly and deep.
Thoughts: I work in an elementary school and a highlight of the year is the Schoolastic Book Fair. I love shopping in the book fair. It’s a great way to see what students are reading and support the school. But I had passed over The Collector a few times, even though my dark and morbid heart was drawn to it. I went to purchase two other (spooky) books. One of the parent volunteers asked if I had checked out The Collector. That sealed my fate. I turned around, got it and it became the third book I bought that day.
A couple of days later I started reading this book on my lunch break and nearly cried. Not only is Josie’s voice authentic, the pain she experiences (from being the new girl, and from trying to cope with understanding her grandmother’s Alzheimer) was treated so well. As someone who has been in both situations, I felt seen. To have that in a children’s book portrayed in such a real way was wonderful.
The fear factor of this story, for such a short story and one aimed at kids, was extremely well done. As an adult I was glad that I didn’t have any dolls around. The way the horror is woven into the every day lives of Josie and her family was thrilling. I flew through this book not because it was short (although as a children’s horror book it is on the slim side to be sure), but because the pacing and rising stakes made this an addictive read.
Despite its intended audience and short length, The Collector is a brilliant story about family and trusting in ones self that any horror enthusiast can enjoy. It really is a treat. But if you do decide to read it…you might want to get rid of your dolls first.