Today’s review is for a book that I literally found myself imagining in Henry Selick claymation as I read it.
The Skull Collector
by Paris Singer
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Gothic Horror
Publisher: Booktrope/ Foresaken
Cover Artist: Yosbe Design
Two Sentence Plot Synopsis:
In a world where morals are meaningless and dark magic runs rampant, a little girl goes to harrowing lengths to be reconnected with her loved ones.
She finds hope in the macabre doll maker who promises to fulfill her wish as long as she collects enough skulls for him from surrounding cemeteries, but many perilous obstacles stand in her way.
The most enjoyable aspect of this book is the world building.
The world where this sad little orphan girl exists is a dark and mysterious one. Forests of bizarre creatures and giant mushrooms, magic beings who endlessly search for skulls, and an ever-present gloom of despair.
It’s a world that has a rich history and the story explores that history just enough to makes you understand how this melancholy existence came to be.
The gloom is broken through with moments of beauty and determination in how the little orphan girl struggles to bring hope into her situation. She finds these glimmering moments to cling to even a friend in the unlikeliest of places.
Her story was as tragic and sweet as you would find in Oliver Twist, with the macabre imagery and well-utilized fantasy violence you would find in a film like Coraline or James and the Giant Peach.
Scenes that Stick
The scene that sticks out the most to me is one of the first in the whole book.
The police have come to confiscate the little girl’s home and all she is left with is her beloved stuffed bear. As she watches everything get hauled away, she stands clutching her bear, with tears in her eyes.
The police sergeant had watched her briefly then, with softening eyes and a wry smile peering through his bushy moustache, he’d said, “I have a girl about your age.”
He’d knelt down beside her and patted the damp hair on her shivering head a little too hard.
Times being harsh for most and kindness deemed an ugly myth, there was no room for noble gestures or acts of compassion. This instance being no different, the police sergeant had suddenly snatched the little girl’s teddy bear from her freezing fingers.
“My daughter will love this, she will.” [Singer, The Skull Collector]
This book was a delightfully dark and macabre treat to read. So if you enjoy books, like The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman or A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket then you’re going to love this book.
5 out of 5 blood spattered stars.
Where to Find the Book
About the Author:
Paris Singer was born in Brussels, Belgium. He has lived in the U.K. and in various places in Spain, where he currently resides. At university, he studied English law and Spanish law. He didn’t like it. He then studied translation and didn’t like it, either.
Currently, he is an English teacher in the south of Spain. He has far too many interests, he’s told, a few of which being sports, playing his old guitar, learning Japanese, painting, reading and cooking.
Not a day goes by, however, where he doesn’t write something, be it under a palm tree or on a bench at a bus stop somewhere.
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