[Click the cover below to check it out! If you don’t see a book cover below it’s probably ad-blocker settings]
[This cover looks way silly compared to the hardback edition, which is what I have.]
“Although Hector Fitzbaudly has always lived a plush life on the posh side of the River Foedus, he’s yearned to slip away from his comfortable home and see the seedy side of Urbs Umida. Unfortunately, he gets his chance when a blackmail artist confronts his father with a terrible secret from his past, and Hector finds himself penniless and on the streets. He is determined to get his revenge against the man responsible, who has been a pauper, a gentleman, and an Eyeball Collector—stealing jewels from the wealthy to make false eyes to replace his missing one. He is a master of disguise, and a swindler who moves from place to place. Hector trails the Eyeball Collector to the small village of Pagus Parvus and the foreboding Withypitts Hall, run by the eccentric Lady Mandible who has a strange taste for the macabre. He takes a job incubating butterflies for Lady Mandible, and places himself in the perfect position to take revenge. Hector is so close to the Eyeball Collector, but will he be able to go through with his plan?”
[Here I complain about how summaries aren’t at all accurate or are too vague, but this description just pretty much blabbers out the entire plot. Leave some mystery, geez!]
A starting note is that I was immediately attracted to the glorious cover on this book. ‘Oooh, an eyeball.’ Then, reading the title, ‘The Eyeball Collector,’ my reaction was pretty much: “Ahmahgawd, I ALSO COLLECT EYEBALLS.” –runs to the purchase counter flailing arms-
After the last few very serious [and long] books, it was a nice relief to read a pretty short Young Adult novel. You can say all you want, some YA books can be pretty damned good. This book, was also pretty awesome.
It moves really fast, and that was also nice. The book splits between a few different people’s perspectives [at the beginning, at least. From the middle to the end, it’s all Hector, the main character] and it goes back and forth between the actual story, and letters to a friend of the main character’s.
More than what the summary already gave? Well, I can’t really go into it without telling the actual complete story [thanks over-spoiler-y synopsis]. But, other than that, I enjoyed how all the characters were written. The author did a great job at setting out landscapes, and sculpting a character. Really, there wasn’t a character in the book I didn’t have some sort of emotion towards, and even the ones you hate, have a lot of depth to them.
The only real downsides I had with this book is/are that the ‘letters’ written between characters aren’t really convincing letters. They literally just carry on the rest of the story, and aren’t written at all in a format you’d ever send someone in an actual letter. If you did, then you might as well send them short stories because people don’t talk to each other like in this book, even when being penpals/writing letters. It was jarring enough to be distracting.
Additionally, I’d say sometimes the plot moved a little too fast, and I was left with a little bit of disappointment in scenes where I’d have loved if it lasted a bit longer, given more detail, etc. Also, there are some animal deaths [cats in particular] that were just… really, really sad. Not pathetic sad, either. Like, how you’d feel if you learned YOUR pets died. Especially in the horrible ways that quite a few animals died in this book. It’s not enough to distract from the story, however.
Ultimately, I really liked this book. In fact, when I found out that there are two more books set in the same ‘universe,’ I immediately looked them up and plan to add them to my wishlist so I can visit this author and their style again.
Also: Death by Butterflies. It’s a thing.
I give The Eyeball Collector 5/5 Gem-Encrusted Eyeballs
Her voice was soft yet commanding. ‘If it were a color,’ Hector thought, ‘it would be a deep brown.‘