Review: The Collectors' Society by Heather Lyons

The Collectors' Society Heather Lyons cover

Title: The Collectors' Society 
Author: Heather Lyons 
Series: The Collectors' Society #1 
Genre:  Fantasy, NA 
Publication date: October 23, 2014 
Rating: ★★★★★ 

After years in Wonderland, Alice has returned to England as an adult, desperate to reclaim sanity and control over her life. An enigmatic gentleman with an intriguing job offer too tempting to resist changes her plans for a calm existence, though. Soon, she’s whisked to New York and initiated into the Collectors’ Society, a secret organization whose members confirm that famous stories are anything but straightforward and that what she knows about the world is only a fraction of the truth. It’s there she discovers villains are afoot—ones who want to shelve the lives of countless beings. Assigned to work with the mysterious and alluring Finn, Alice and the rest of the Collectors’ Society race against a doomsday clock in order to prevent further destruction . . . but will they make it before all their endings are erased?

In paginis mundus invenimus. In verbis vitam inveniimus.
In pages, we find words. In words, we find life.

Oh my. I’m in love. There’s just no other way to put it. Not a very rational decision, but I had absolutely no control over it. I’ve been falling since the very first chapter. The story lured me in and held me captive. I started reading and I didn’t stop until I finished. Every person that made me put it down, even for just a sec, got an irritated remark in return. I’m in love with the world, I’m in love with the characters and I’m in love with the writing. Why? Because. I’m positive people more demanding than I would definitely find flaws in this book. And I could have too, if I’d let myself. But I was enjoying it so much that instead I just let the book completely suck me in.

There are multiple ways to label people, as you may well know. In the literate world, we can simplify this in that there are readers and non-readers. Within the readers category, we can further label people by how passionate they are with the books they choose. Some people escape into the stories they read. Some read for purpose or information. Some read out of resentment or necessity. But let us, in this moment, focus on those who find books to be an escape or an extension of their imagination. These readers see, within their mind’s eye, the characters and settings in the pages below their fingers. They feel the emotions woven between the words. They live through every heartache, every embrace, every terror. Books, to these people, become tangible, living things. The characters they read become genuine souls. People like this are often accused of living within their fantasies. They’re said to have their noses stuck in books. But the reality is that some of these people actually do escape into books.

The characters were brilliant. The book features a lot of characters from other books, classic literature mostly. Long story short, some can travel from their own ‘timeline’ to the modern age. But they aren’t just copied from their own book. No, they’re portrayed after they’ve lived through their own events. Alice for instance has been living in an asylum for the insane for almost a year when she is suddenly recruited to become part of the Society. After her time in Wonderland she now travels to modern day New York and finds herself once again in an entirely different world/ era. But she’s not the little blond girl from the story anymore. And according to this book perhaps she never was. Things aren’t that simple. She’s twenty-five years old now and an adult. Heather Lyons turns her into her own character and she does this really well. I’ve never actually read Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but Alice felt real to me here. She’s got a past that we both know and not know. The same goes for everyone else. It was a lot of fun trying to figure out who the characters actually were. A search, almost. What book were they from? What has become of them after their original story? I loved all of them. I suppose one could say it’s dangerous and perhaps pretentious to use characters and worlds so universally known and admired. Wonderland for instance - different and yet the same. I. Loved. It.

Each of us here has a story, but it’s not necessarily the one people think they know.

I also liked that this was New Adult for a change. I didn’t expect the higher maturity level to make a big difference, but it did. There was no unnecessary drama, no whiny characters. Romance is a very big part of the book and it’s done very naturally. There’s a certain ease that I admire. The novel is even promoted as such, but I don’t think that’s fair. It’s not just a romantic tale and if you want 'steamy' scenes then you've picked up the wrong book. Without the fantasy aspect this story would hardly be as good as it was, so I refuse to label it as 'romance'. I mean I LOVED Finn (more than would strictly be considered healthy. I actually wrote an entire paragraph on him, but then deleted it, because I feel like you should fall in love with him yourself), but the hint of magic and mystery was as much reason for me to read on. It was intriguing.

One day I’m going to read Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. My copy has been gathering dust on my shelf for over two years now. And when I do, I hope I won’t be disappointed when little Alice doesn’t turn out as great as this version of her.

The most truthful answers are found through observation. Words allow lies.

Note: If there’s one thing that bothered me, it’s that there were quite a lot of typos in the paperback edition I bought. It’s poor editing more than poor writing but it was still a bit annoying.

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  1. What a great review, Maaike! I'm so glad people are reading Heather's books because they're seriously amazing! I already read the next 2 installments and can say that they're also pretty addictive ... I totally fell in love with The White King but Finn's definitely dear to my heart as well! The characters are just TOO GOOD! ♥

    I hope you'll also like the next books! Happy Reading! :D

    Yvonne @ A World Between Folded Pages

    1. I get what you're saying. I've JUST finished the second book and I'm going absolutely mad here. I nééd to read the Forgotten Mountain right now! (IS FINN OKAY? :O (never mind don't answer that)) I love the White King almost as much as I love Finn actually. The situation is just really messed-up. They're all very mature about it and that makes it so utterly heartbreaking. It's like you're almost rooting for both of them. This series is so amazing. I had absolutely no idea I would love it this deeply. And like you say, the characters are just too good. They're brilliant - all of them. Even that creepy Librarian.


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