When I picked up The Collector of Lost Things, I expected an adventure-filled historical fiction. The audiobook delivered a heavy-handed treatment of man vs. nature with some truly disturbing scenes of mass animal slaughter. Not for the faint of heart or stomach.
The story beyond these stomach churning scenes was nothing to write home about. I was very disappointed.
I found myself drawing parallels between The Collector of Lost Things and James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, particularly the book, The Pioneers.
In The Pioneers, Chapter 3 depicts settlers shooting a cloud of pigeons so vast that it nearly blocks out the sky. They fire repeatedly into the flock, killing far beyond what they’ll need or consume. The mindless slaughter is categorized as sport.
The hero of the story, Natty Bumppo, expresses disgust at the behavior. The reader understands the author’s point and the story moves on.
In this book, not only is there an homage to the pigeon scene, but the reader has to endure the repeated abuse of whales, walruses (walrii?), seals, and the possible extinction of an entire species of bird. I felt like the point wasn’t just driven home- it smashed me in the face.
My stomach was so turned by the slaughter that I couldn’t enjoy the book anymore. It was a shame because the prose used to describe the arctic scenery was some of the most expressive and beautiful that I have ever read. It puts you there, but then it drowns you in seas of blood.
If you enjoyed this book, you should read James Fenimore Cooper. The topic is the same, but the treatment in Cooper’s novels is far superior.
Thanks for reading!