Sometimes I take my time getting around to things.
It was some time ago that sj started telling me I needed to read Chris F. Holm’s Collector series. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust her – I did, and I do, especially when it comes to literature – but I just have to defend myself by saying I have a TBR list that’ll last longer than I live. Sometimes I think of it and get super-daunted. I know. There are worse things in the world to stress over. But still. SO MANY BOOKS. SO LITTLE TIME.
I read Chris’s two story collections (and reviewed them here earlier in the year) and was immediately blown away by his talent. The Collector series moved up on my list of things to read, but, as mentioned – there are so many things, you guys. Just so, so many.
(Side note: Chris could not be more delightful on Twitter, and his wife Kat is SIMILARLY delightful, so it made me feel severely terrible that I hadn’t read all of his books yet. How many people are lucky enough to have amazing authors as friends? Not many. I needed to step it up. Also, in news of EXCITEMENT, Chris and Kat are coming to my TOWN! In September! AND I GET TO MEET THEM! Sorry. Sorry. Little geekout, there. It happens. But I had to have them all read by September, right? How could I meet him without having them read? RUDE.)
I did, however, go on vacation a couple of weeks ago. And the power was out the first three days I was there. So it was a little hard to read paper books by candlelight. However, my Kindle worked just fine. And what better to read by candlelight in a dark cabin in the woods than a book about a collector of souls?
Three hours later, at one in the morning, I looked up and REALIZED it was one in the morning.
You guys, these books are severely seven flavors of awesome.
I’m going to try VERY HARD not to spoil any of you. Because I want you all to immediately go out and buy the first one. Which will hook you, like it hooked me. Then you will buy the second one. And the third one. And, like me, sit impatiently waiting for the NEXT one, which will, no doubt, be a while from now because the third one just came out, and DAMMIT am I one impatient little monkey.
In Dead Harvest, we meet Sam Thornton. He accidentally sold – and then lost – his soul to a demon in the 40s; his hell is that he has to live his eternity collecting souls from others in the same situation he was in. All Collectors get a handler; he is handled by Lilith. Yes, that Lilith. She is just as awesome and awe-inspiring as you might imagine.
He is tasked to collect a soul from a teenage girl who slaughtered her family. Easy enough. That’s a soul meant for hell, right? Well, not so much, actually. Because when Sam shows up, the girl’s actually an innocent. And Sam does what a Collector has never done before. He refuses to take her soul.
In The Wrong Goodbye, Sam shows up to collect a soul – only the soul has already been collected. Which sets a series of events in motion that involve Charon, treacherous friends, a low-level mobster on the run, a kickass transgender stripper, and oh, yeah, possibly an event that might wipe a ton of humans off the map. So, just your average day at the office, then.
In The Big Reap (which was released July 30 – it’s sparkly-new, you guys!), Sam finds out he’s been assigned to collect the souls of nine collectors gone rogue. Or possibly die trying, as they’re ancient and powerful and pretty darn evil. Doesn’t matter – once you’re sent on a job, it’s not like you can hide under the bed and wait for it to go away.
That’s all I’m telling you, because I want you to go into these knowing as next-to-nothing as I did.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The characters are so fully-formed and realistic you feel like you’re completely in the world the minute you start reading. There aren’t many books, especially in this genre, this realistic. (It’s not an easy thing to do. You’ve got this world of fantasy, yet you’re putting real people in it. It’s easy to give up and make the people as fantastic as the world.) Chris doesn’t cop out. The people are real. And listen. You love them. You finish the first book, you pick up the second book – and it’s like coming home.
- For whatever genre this is (fantasy noir? I’m saying that’s what it is. It probably has some fancy-schmancy name I’m not aware of) it’s also two things you wouldn’t expect – funny as hell and truly touching. You’re going to cackle at some of the plot twists and some of the clever turns of phrase, and you’re going to get so close to the characters that their pain is yours (and their triumphs are yours as well.)
- Chris is a very, very good writer. He’s got some plot twists that crop up along the way that, when you realize what’s happening, make you thrill with the creativity with them. I lost track of the number of times I exclaimed out loud over something he’d done.
You need these books. You need to meet Sam and Lilith; you need to learn why it’s totally a dick move to smoke in a borrowed meat-suit; you need to find out whose soul was the very first that Sam collected; you need to know where you end up if you get killed on the job (Guam. It’s almost always effing Guam.)
Me, I’m going to be waiting over here patiently for the next installment. And for September, when I can properly geek out with the author in person over these books, which have made me so happy I want to yell at everyone who hasn’t read them yet, like sj did to me all those months ago, “WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ THE COLLECTOR SERIES YET?”
Only, you know, in a much less all-caps shouty way. Like the lady I am, dammit.