Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: The Collector – John Fowles

The Collector – John Fowles

Withdrawn, uneducated, and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is to understand her captor, and so gain her freedom. 
This brilliant tale of obsessive love was John Fowles's debut novel, and it immediately established him as a major contemporary novelist.

Review: I loved half of this book and disliked the other half.

The Collector is a classic horror story that has influenced many modern-day horror novels. In this book, a shy butterfly collector wins a bunch of money. He uses it to buy a house in the English countryside. He then turns the house’s cellar into a dungeon and kidnaps a beautiful young art student. The first half of the book is told from the kidnapper’s point-of-view, and the second half is told from the point-of-view of the kidnap victim, Miranda.

The first half of the book is fast-paced and unpredictable. The narrator—Frederick—is interesting in a psychopathic sort of way. He badly wants to be loved, but he’s so uncomfortable around women that he can’t interact with them. He resorts to kidnapping to get what he wants, but Miranda isn’t what he expected. Frederick can’t make her love him, even though he gives her everything she wants (except freedom).

I like the way that the first part of the book is written. The reader can see Fredrick’s lack of education and his low self-esteem. Frederick doesn’t completely understand that kidnapping Miranda is wrong. He sees her as a “guest” in his house. It’s creepy.

The first half of the book is great, but the second half was a slog for me. The second half is a retelling of the first half from Miranda’s point-of-view. Since I already knew everything that was going to happen, there was no suspense or unpredictability. Miranda also isn’t a very interesting character. She’s pretentious. Most of her section is about her pre-kidnapped life, which I found a little tedious. She talks a lot about art and a much-older artist who she had an obsessive relationship with. I understand how this ties into the themes of the book, but it just didn’t interest me at all.

I highly recommend reading Frederick’s sections if you like classic horror. You can probably skim Miranda’s section without missing much. Make sure you read the very end of the book, though. It gets disturbing in the last few pages.


  1. This is worth a try if for no other reason than it's influence on other literature. It's too bad that this wasn't done in alternating perspectives, rather than the first half and then second half. Thanks for your review.
    I had a friend recommend your blog to me, BTW, and I'm glad that she did.

    1. Alternating perspectives would have been great. I would have liked the book much better if the second half had been more suspenseful.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!