The Collector: The Big Reap by Chris F. Holm – Advance Review [Bane of Kings]

The Big Reap

Bane of Kings writes an Advance Review of The Big Reap by Chris F. Holm, the third instalment in the Angry-Robot published Collector Series, which hits shelves 30 July in the US, and 1 August in the UK. 

“A page turning story that will have you on the edge of your seats from the get go. Chris F. Holm’s third outing for Sam Thorton delivers a great storyline, and provides readers with the best novel in the series yet. Fans of the previous two books will love this one.” ~The Founding Fields

If the previous Collector novel, The Wrong Goodbye, was a pulp/urban-fantasy style roadtrip, then The Big Reap barrels forward with a similar structure to a video game storyline,  Sam Thorton is sent after one target after the other, and they become harder to kill as the story goes on, before delivering one final twist. It sounds as if you’ve heard it before – and you probably have. But that doesn’t stop The Big Reap from being an incredible, engrossing book, allowing for a really spectacular read, helped by strategically placed flashbacks to the final months of the Second World War, and Sam’s first outing as a Collector, leaving you with a great sense that if this was indeed a Trilogy like I had first thought with my review for The Wrong Goodbye, then this would be a more than suitable last hurrah for everybody’s favourite Collector of Souls. However, it’s not – and I really can’t wait to see where Holm takes the reader next.

Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions.

However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right? 

Sam is still as strong a character ever. His narration is what carries the book, and for those of you who have a problem with Kevin Hearne’s 2,000 year old druid running around spurting pop culture references left right and centre, then you should find Sam just right up your street. In one of the book’s most amusing sequences, he finds himself in the body of a Skrillex-listening teenager, and the paragraphs where Sam attempts to get the subsequent music player to stop working prove that Holm can write humour as well as anyone. The book is filled with bleak humour outside of this moment, mainly helped by Sam’s narrative, and quips that become part of his charm. He still maintains disobedience for his superiors, such as calling Lilith “Lily”, and it’s really fun watching this character try and get himself out of various situations.

The Big ReapIt’s one of those books that works best if you go in without being spoiled. Most people who are reading this review will have read Books One and Two by now, but Holm can still throw a few surprises at the reader and The Big Reap is far from predictable. I love the way that Holm ties Sam’s first Collection flashback story with the events currently happening in the present – and if you’ve expected something minor for Sam’s first outing, then thing again. He’s literally thrown in at the deep end with this, and when at the end of the first chapter I knew who they were going to kill, I literally didn’t see that one coming. Here’s a recommendation – if you get the chance to view any preview pages of this book before buying it, don’t. You’ll get a lot more satisfaction of you know that you’ve got the whole story to fall back on. Also, can we say that thanks to that last line, The Big Reap now boasts the best first Chapter in an urban fantasy book ever?

The action, despite seeming slightly formulaic at first, is nonetheless engrossing. It takes place in a variety of locations and Sam’s hunt brings him across many places in the world to try and look for the Brethren, a mysterious and mythical group of former Collectors who have thrown away their ties to Hell, and it’s very interesting to see how things develop as the novel goes on. It’s a truly page-turning read, and also – I highly recommend that you don’t read this on a bus if you want to get off at your stop. I barely managed to get off where I wanted to, and that’s only because my stop was the last in the route. It’s easily the most page-turning of all the novels in the series, and proves to authors like James Patterson and Dan Brown, that you don’t need one paragraph chapters to tell a fast-moving book.

VERDICT: 5/5

THE COLLECTOR SERIES: Dead Harvest, The Wrong Goodbye, The Big Reap,

 

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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