Reviews for Eyeball Collector
Booklist Reviews 2009 September #2
If nothing else, Higgins has concocted some imaginative terminology for her interconnected, quasi-Victorian horror-mystery novels. Whereas The Bone Magician (2008) was billed as a "paraquel" to The Black Book of Secrets (2007) because it ran on a parallel course, she calls this story a "polyquel," consisting of elements from both of the others, but a distinct story unto itself. A new hero, Hector Fitzbaudly, the son of a disgraced wine merchant and butterfly collector, vows to exact revenge from the one-eyed swindler he sees as responsible for his father's death. With singleminded purpose, Hector wades from a comfortable upbringing to filthy alleyways to a mansion bristling with terrifying curiosities and sinister intrigue. Ultimately, this story is about not letting oneself sink to the level of one's enemies, but readers will be most taken by the delightfully dense atmospherics fairly dripping off the pages. Readers need not be familiar with Higgins' other books, but the hints dropped in to tie the world together will likely send them hunting for more while awaiting the next. A hyperquel, perhaps? Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Hector Fitzbaudly vows revenge against Gulliver Truepin, the villain who caused his father's death. Truepin--unaware of the boy's identity--hires Hector to cultivate butterflies as marvels for Lady Mandible's Midwinter Feast. Threads from companion volumes The Black Book of Secrets and The Bone Magician are woven into the story's fabric. The climactic orgy of macabre circumstances will leave readers shivering with pleasurable horror. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #5
With his father dead, his wealth gone, and himself out on the street in a bad part of the city of Urbs Umida, Hector Fitzbaudly vows revenge against Gulliver Truepin, the blackmailing villain who caused his father's fatal heart attack. The one-eyed Truepin, newly styled Baron Bovrik de Vandolin, has ingratiated himself with the extravagant and cruel Lady Mandible, and it is in his role of procuring marvels for Lady Mandible's Midwinter Feast that -- unaware of the boy's true identity -- he hires Hector to cultivate butterflies. Hector makes the harrowing journey to remote Withypitts Hall, where he plots Truepin's murder. As in companion books The Black Book of Secrets (rev. 1/08) and The Bone Magician, oddities checker the plot (riddles, glass eyes, the frequent invocation of butterflies' Latin names); coincidences drive the narrative; threads from previous stories emerge and are rewoven into the fabric. Here the gothic tension is ratcheted even higher: in his nighttime perambulations around the Hall, Hector discovers gruesome rarities suited to the sadistic tastes of Lady Mandible, the sight of which Hector feels is seared onto his very soul. In the end, Hector must choose between his desire for revenge and his father's advice not to become like those who wronged him -- but his choice doesn't prevent the climactic orgy of macabre circumstances that will leave readers shivering with pleasurable horror. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2009 July #1
In what the author dubs a "polyquel" that partially bridges her Black Book of Secrets (2007) and its prequel Bone Magician (2008), Higgins sends a suddenly penniless young orphan from the filthy streets of Urbs Umida's South Side to an extravagantly rococo estate house in search of vengeance for his family's ruin. Thanks to hobbies shared with his recently deceased father, Hector is an accomplished riddler and an expert lepidopterist. Both serve him well as he pursues a certain one-eyed con man while making shift to survive on the Dickensian city's gin-soaked mean streets and then to raise a crop of butterflies for a lavish dinner party presided over by Withypitts Hall's decidedly weird Lady Mandible. Readers with a taste for lurid prose, macabre twists, riddles, exotic poisons, high-society caricatures, murderous schemes and scenes of stomach-churning degeneracy will find some or all of these in every chapter, and though the author trots in multiple characters and references from previous episodes, this one stands sturdily on its own. (Fantasy. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 September #1
In Higgins's witty "polyquel" to The Black Book of Secrets and The Bone Magician (it "contains elements from both stories as well as mysteries all of its own," per her postscript), young Hector finds himself homeless and penniless after his father is blackmailed and disgraced. When his father dies of heartbreak, Hector seeks revenge against the man who ruined them. The titular villain, Gulliver Truepin, is not as gruesome as his nickname suggests: he's a one-eyed con artist who wants a fake eyeball--each with a different jewel at the center--for each day of the week. Through a series of coincidences, both characters end up at Withypitts Hall, under the cruel watch of Lady Mandible. As Hector plots vengeance and Truepin works out yet another scheme, they both get caught up in Mandible's own plotting, the assorted plans all colliding on the night of an extravagant feast. Higgins fills her book with deliciously nasty bits (Mandible paints using blood leeched from a servant), riddles and a Dickensian atmosphere that's both stark and delightful. Some familiar faces appear, but this story works beautifully on its own. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) [Page 47]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2009 November
Gr 7-10--This novel has elements of The Black Book of Secrets (2007) and The Bone Magician (2008, both Feiwel & Friends). Like its predecessors, it is a dark and diabolical story, set in an alternative universe that is distinctly Dickensian and peopled with Higgins's creepiest cast yet. Hector Fitzbaudly's father is a merchant of fine wines and a collector of butterflies. The dastardly one-eyed Gulliver Truepin blackmails the elder Fitzbaudly, revealing how he made his fortune. Mr. Fitzbaudly is ruined and dies. Hector plots revenge against Truepin, who surfaces as a phony Baron staying at Withypitts Hall, where he continues to steal in order to purchase a seven-day set of bejeweled glass eyeballs. Withypitts is home to depraved and ruthless Lady Mandible, who makes Cruella de Vil appear destined for sainthood. She watches as her manservant is covered with leeches that will suck his blood, which she uses to paint demonic works. Lady Mandible employs Hector to raise butterflies for the annual Midwinter Feast, bringing the orphaned boy closer to completing his revenge. The feast itself is one of the most garish and disgusting scenes in young adult literature. Eventually, Hector comes to realize that by seeking revenge he has lowered himself to Truepin's level. Higgins's clever and intricate plot moves along swiftly. Her dark atmosphere is well drawn, with stunning graphic images that are not for the faint of heart. Riddles are laced throughout the novel, with answers appended. Less touchingly human than the acclaimed The Black Book of Secrets, this "polyquel" will appeal to mature readers who enjoy highly imagined dark stories.--Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME [Page 110]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2009 October
Hector is a well-educated boy from the north side--the proper side--of the river, but his advantaged life quickly slips away when career con-man Gulliver Truepin targets Hector's father, Augustus Fitzbaudly, for blackmail. Using Fitzbaudly's life savings, Truepin becomes foreign aristocrat Baron Bovrik de Vandolin. Crushed by the destruction of his business, his reputation, and his extensive butterfly collection, Augustus dies in Hector's arms. After accidentally discovering Truepin's new identity, Hector begins to plot his revenge. Ironically his father's teaching on how to hatch butterflies is his ticket into Withypitts Hall where the Baron resides. Will Hector continue on his path of self-destruction in the name of revenge, or will he heed his fathers dying wish to become a better man? The author is calling this third book set in Urbs Umida a "polyquel." The books might have a common setting and crossover characters, but they can also be read as standalone stories. Urbs Umida is an unforgiving land and most of the inhabitants are greedy, unkind souls. Gratuitously gruesome scenes, such as the cat eater who consumes a pet cat for the entertainment of others, or the cape of living butterflies, are uncomfortable to read. The brightest moments of this book are Hector's clever riddling for fun and then profit, but the riddles fade out as the drama grows. Readers of previous stories will be interested, but the lack of action or strong plot are unlikely to pull in new fans.--Stacey Hayman. 3Q 2P J Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.