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The Collector (Dante Walker)

The Collector - Victoria Scott This review and others are posted at Read, Rinse, Repeat.

It took me a long time to accept Dante. A looong time. I've never liked people (real or fictional) who advertise any aspect of their supposed greatness. I mean, if you're a genius, beautiful, an athletic superstar, or just an overall wonderful human being, you shouldn't have to tell everyone, should you? People should be able to spot these magnificent qualities without any assistance from the magnificent quality-possessor. So, about Dante.... He's got the looks. He's got the swagger. And he lets us know it. Repeatedly. When I was about 50 pages into the book, I described him in my Teaser post as a tool and a jackass. But a funny thing happened between this demon from Hell and me. As Dante grew and matured, my feelings about him grew, too. Was I actually starting to like this guy? By then end of the book, I was a Dante fan, and that was a great feat that Victoria Scott pulled off.

Other readers' ability to enjoy this book will likely hinge on whether or not you believe Dante's transformation is believable. If you read a few pages from the beginning and then skipped towards the end, you'd be amazed that the narrator is the same guy. But it worked for me. He changed for a girl. Not just any girl, but Charlie, who's alternately tough and fragile, homely and beautiful (you're going to have to read to see just how that one works), and always sweet, kind, and loyal. Because I believed that even someone as arrogant as Dante could fall for Charlie, I accepted his transformation. Actually, it becomes clear that that part of him was there all along, but the pain of his past life buried it deeply. When he falls, he falls hard, and it was hard for me to watch his pain as he risked his life to protect Charlie.

But enough about the romance. Let's talk about the fact that this book is about a dead guy who works for the Devil and who's assigned the job of "collecting" the soul of sweet, naive Charlie. This was a new one for me. Dante initially had no idea why he was sent to capture Charlie's soul, and he didn't care. It was just a job for him. When we find out why sweet Charlie is so important, the stakes are raised for the folks both upstairs and downstairs. If Dante doesn't follow through on his commitment to Boss Man (The Devil), there will be hell to pay, and that's not a metaphor. Likewise, the repercussions for Charlie are not pleasant, and this sets up an epic battle between good and evil, as as one side tries to take Charlie's soul, and the other tries to protect it.

Victoria Scott gives Dante a great voice. Setting aside some of his douchier comments, she gives him a lot of humorous lines. He's also got his kind, tender moments, although it takes a lot of work to drag that part out of him. Scott ends on a great cliff-hanger, and it looks like the sequel is set to come out in August!

Side note - If you like witty author banter, and if you're not following @VictoriaScottYA, you should. She told me over Twitter that she would lock me in her basement and feed me mini chewy Sweet-Tarts. Yes, that was the essence of the Tweet, and yes, I completely stripped out any and all additional context that would reveal that it was actually very funny and sweet. So, even though I've implied she's a kidnapping psychopath, I get the impression that she'd be OK with that. :)

Note - I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.