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on 27 April 2016
The Eyeball Collector
A delectable tale that highlights the merits of delightful friendships which may all come awry when interfered with by dodgy villains with devilish plans.
'The Eyeball Collector' is a scrumptious literary outing and ready reading tonic for the young, and not so young reader; who may enjoy a backwards voyage through time itself, to an age that is not old enough for readers not to recognise society's and modernity's birth pains; yet antiquated enough to offer goosebumps and loathing for a story with descriptive and luxuriant words which tantalise and hypnotise our senses in a most attractive yet repelling way. The author is clearly a genius with words and her descriptive powers conjure a story and imaginations that you all need to experience.
The book ensnares us richly and deep within its Gothic fabric. F E Higgins is without doubt the most malevolently cheery yet dangerous teller-of-tales and, as such, I feel that she is perhaps the most able wordsmith I've read; a writer who is able to transport everyone and their five senses back to evil places, lurid people, exotic malcontents and the sights and sounds of a wonderful tale from a unique vision of yesteryear.
It's simply far too good for children and her extremely fabulous series to date ought by now to have been turned to the large screen. I think this writer is simply the best. Buy this book. Buy all her books. Try to put any of them down once you commence the reading of them.
You'll regret missing this author.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
F E Higgins (if such she really be) is a good writer and this is a good tale.

With regard to her evolving persona she seems to be quietly cultivating her own quaint
mythology somewhere in deepest, darkest Kent (and for Kentish creatures the clues
she has scattered suggest a remote{ish} location close to the village of Pluckley).
As an author she would appear to have learned her lessons well from other great
navigators of the more grotesque corners of the human imagination such as Dickens,
Peake and Pratchett.

The central character Hector is a worthy hero. His story, ultimately, explores
the dominance of conscience over a deep urge for revenge. A moral quest.

Along the way his entanglement with a motley collection of well-drawn characters
leads him inexorably deeper into a labyrinthine web of lies, deception and intrigue.

Two of the central performers in this drama are among the most (deliciously) horrible
I have come across in childrens' fiction.

Lady Lysandra Mandible ( a kind of Lady Macbeth/Cruella de Vil hybrid ) really is
as nasty as they come. Her appetite for increasingly twisted exotic novelties sits
well within the noble history of Grand Guignol. Wickedness truly becomes her.
The fate of poor Lord Mandible's cat Posset (what does Ms Higgins have against
the French by the way ?!) will have many a young reader squirming in their chair!

Despite being a truly vile being I found myself feeling somewhat sorry for
Baron Bovrik de Vandolin and his ultimate fate. The price of love and power
(always a heady mix in any narrative) costs him dearly !
The collection to which the book's title refers is a sumptiously macabre invention !

The atmospheres of landscape and location are beautifully captured throughout.
( Some are so vivid that you can almost smell them !).

I understand that this novel has more than a passing relationship with two
others by the author. Not having read them any interrelationships between
their subject matter has, of course, passed me by.
This cracking story, however, stands up perfectly well on its own two feet.

After reading 'The Eyeball Collector' I have felt my own appetite
stirred with regard to Madame Higgins' earlier endeavours.
I think I am developing quite a taste for it in fact !

Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
This is the third in the series after the The Black Book of Secrets and The Bone Magician. It's a wonderful continuation of the slightly macabre yet really entertaining events in Urbs Umida and the outlying villages. This book even returns momentarily to Pagus Parvus, the focus of the 'Black Book'. The world stretches even further in this book to take in a previously unseen castle and immoral upper classes.
Ever wondered what happened to Ludlows parents in the first book? This tale gives a wonderful twist on the story and the characters and scene setting are as magical and outlandish as ever. This book is ever so familar in the way old characters and themes pop up. Even the poems and folklore are that of Beag Hickory who appears in the 'Bone Magician'.
The story follows a young hero, Hector, who finds himself orphaned and impoverished in awful circumstances and ends up with the castle dwelling upper classes of this fantastical world. The inhabitants of which are fouler than the river Foedus and do unspeakable things.
The action is rather overtaken by the vile, older characters in the second half of the book and as they are overwhelmingly horrid and unsympathetic it is not such a fun read as the previous two books. The elder corrupt characters completely steal the show from the young heroes who have previously been the focus of the stories.
Visually this book isn't as well presented as the 'Bone Magician'. We are back to different fonts for the letters and newspaper entries which form a large part of the story. The letters from Hector to Polly (remember her from the 'Black Book'?) and articles from 'The Northside Diurnal Journal' help tell the story.
Riddles and butterfly collecting are key to this story but it doesn't seem as full and detailed a world as the previous two books.
Recommended as almost 4.5 stars but you need to read the first two stories in the series before this!
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There are shades of the Count of Monte Cristo in this third of the Urbs Umida series of books. In a fast-paced revenge story with hardly a wasted word, we follow Hector's troubled attempt to get back at the swindler who hounded his beloved father to an early grave.

Perhaps straining too hard to incorporate the stories from the previous two volumes, this is an absolute page-turner full of nasty Gothic surprises and some scenes that will make you queasy.

I can't recommend this series highly enough, with this third book being the best of the lot so far.
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on 5 July 2014
This is another book that I have had on my shelves for years but never got round to reading so when I needed something to listen to next in my car and I saw this on the shelf at the library I thought I might as well listen to it instead.

The narrator wasn't bad, he wasn't as gripping as some of the others I've heard and he did a really silly accent for one of the characters which threw me off everytime he spoke but other than that he does quite a good job.

This story follows Hector as he journeys to try and get revenge on a man with a glass eye. This man blackmailed his father and ran his company into the ground. Having to give up his business and his precious butterfly collection pretty much finishes Hector's Dad off, so Hector want to make this man pay for what he has done. His journey takes him to the South side of the bridge, life is harder over there and he ends up in a house for abandoned boys with lots of other kids, sort of street urchins. But then he bumps into the mysterious man with the glass eye and Hector takes his chance and ends up going back with him to Withypitts hall. But is revenge the best idea, as more strange events and mysteries occur Hector starts to wonder if this is what he really wants.

To be honest this book had a pretty good concept and was good enough to make me want to know how it ended but I wasn't hooked. I kept realizing that I had lost focus and missed a bit of the story but I was never bothered enough to go back and listen to it again and I don't think I missed that much of importance. For me the story was just a bit too drawn out, I kept waiting for some action or revelation from Hector but it didn't come. He also has a phrase that he says when something goes wrong which at first was quite sweet but then it just got a bit annoying to me.

The ending wasn't bad and pulls everything together and finishes off the story but I just wasn't hooked. It was fairly amusing and the characters are well written - they certainly have great personalities. This just wasn't for me in the end.
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VINE VOICEon 13 July 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What a joy to be able to step back in to the magical world created by F.E.Higgins.
In this third instalment our hero Hector, butterfly boy extraordinary is on a mission of revenge for the death of his father cheated by the evil Gulliver Truepin ( later to become Baron Bovrick de Vandolin). this all takes place outside the mountainous village of Pagus Parvus at the marvellously named Gothic heap ~ Withypitts Hall, overseen by the vampiric Lady Lysandra Mandible who is about to make her name in local society by putting on her stunning Midwinter Festival complete with a feast copied from Petronius ~ Trimalchio's famous feast, which will include " sweet dormice sprinkled with honey and poppy seeds" ~ yum, and "piglets stuffed with live thrushes" not quite so yum.

Of course things do not work out exactly as planned and several grisly deaths spoil the party. Baron Bovrick, the Eyeball Collector of the title is killed in such an original and bizarre way that I can not possibly mention it here and spoil your enjoyment of the macabre little gem

As in the previous two books Higgins has plundered the history of both fairy tale and mythology to excellent result. And, as explained in one of the many appendices at the back of the book this is a polyquel to the other books as it contains characters and locations from them which gives the already dreamlike quality of the book an extra deja vu element which is quite startling. So many more -quels of whatever kind, please.

Withypitts Hall is so strange and creepy that is even makes Gormenghast seem like a Holiday Inn. This book will enrich the reputation of the author and, no doubt, make many new fans
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VINE VOICEon 7 October 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is well written and grabs your attention from the very first paragraph.

The story is excellent the characters wonderful creating the most exciting atmosphere as you read.

My son read this in two days attending school and doing homework in between. If your son or daughter enjoys JK Rowling or is a fan of Joseph Delaney then this book would be a good purchase for you. I have just ordered F E Higgins other books as part of my sons christmas goodies collection in the firm knowledge that he will thoroughly enjoy.

As a parent the thing I like most about this book is how it is written, its very old fashioned in its style all the t's crossed and the i's doted with real paragraphs, no text speak here or bad spelling.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the third offering from F.E. Higgins and does not disappoint.

Once again we return to the ghastly city of Urbs Umida lying next to the aptly named river Foedus. Our hero this time is Hector who comes from 'across' the river i.e, the posh side of the town but owing to his Father's rather shady past catching up with him and then being blackmailed, young Hector finds himself orphaned and penniless and with a deep desire in his heart for revenge upon his Father's murderer.

His travels take him to Withypitts Hall the grotesque home of Lord and Lady Mandible who unknowingly have taken into their home Hector's nemesis the now newly named and with forged papers to prove it, Baron Bovrik de Vandolin. Through a chance meeting with the Baron, Hector is hired to breed some butterflies for Lady Mandibles Mid Winter Feast. Here is where the story really begins and what a story it turns out to be with a rather unexpected ending.

With a cast of truly ghastly, cruel, murdering, thieving and thorougly obnoxious people this is a must for the reader be they a child or adult. I am in the latter category and thought it well written, the storyline fluid and seamless and also a good social satire.

Hector's revenge is not quite what he planned so he retires from the book with an old 'friend' from F.E. Higgin's first book and with no stain on his soul.
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VINE VOICEon 6 July 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Don't get me wrong - this is not a Harry Potter clone, but something much more imaginative. In a world that is not our own, but is our own, parents sell their children's teeth, evil people eat cats and wicked barons and ladies thrive. F E Higgins writes wonderfully well. The characters are well drawn and the stories imaginative and gripping. Highly recommended!
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VINE VOICEon 8 July 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am not going to discuss the plot of this book because it can be read on the synopsis and I myself do not appreciate long and rambling reviews.

What I will say is that this is a really good read for children and young adults. I know that my 10 year old will enjoy this so I am passing it on to him.

If you have read the Black Book of Secrets, you will be familiar with the style and the fact that this book is a follow on but with different central characters and some cross overs you will recognise!

Again... a story with life advice.... don't seek revenge and lower yourself to the levels of those you seek it with. Bitterness and nastiness has its own rewards... in time!

Good adventure story, highly recommended.
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