Book Review: The Collectors, Jacqueline West

The Collectors
Author: Jacqueline West
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins Publishers
Ages: 8-12
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Maybe there are whole new worlds to be discovered if we only pay attention. The mystery of a world just beyond our sight grips readers through The Collectors. We meet Van, a clever boy who has learned to pay attention to the tiny things, partly because his senses are impacted from hearing loss.

Van’s opera-star mom moves him around the globe, and Van finds trouble connecting with others. Instead, he spends his days quietly searching for tiny lost things and imaginatively wishing for a world of adventure. While waiting for his mom to finish shopping, he notices a strange girl collecting coins out of a fountain, and follows her to the City Collection Agency. There, Van discovers he can do something that others cannot. He can see wishes.

He meets the Collectors, a group of individuals that collect wishes. The story takes a twist when he is introduced to Mr. Falborg, a friend of Van’s mom who has glorious collections of his own—including a puzzling, dark, locked room. Mr. Falborg warns Van of the Collector’s dangerous ways and tasks him to sneak into the depths of The City Collection Agency to discover what is hiding there. But Mr. Falborg has secrets of his own. Just when Van works his way through surprising twists and turns and nearly encounters the truth, his mom announces that they’re moving across the globe.

This book erupts with imaginative creatures and fast-moving scenes. The writing will grip young lovers of mystery as they try to decipher good from evil in the twists of this tale. This cleverly crafted, puzzling story pulls young readers through the twists and turns of a fantasy world shrouded in magic. Readers will find wonder at the beautifully wispy world of wishes and the unintended consequences of those wishes coming true, and start to see the dangerous risk of having too much power.

Readers who enjoyed The Train of Lost Things will find themselves quickly engulfing the words of this just-beyond-reality story packed with wonder and imagination.


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