Title: The Thought Collector
Author: Anel Viz
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Characters: Travis, Mel, Mr. Chauncey
POV: 1st person (Travis)
Book Cover Rating: 4
A man’s mind goes blank, because the person sitting next to him on the park bench has “collected his thoughts”. That night an odd, mousy-looking fellow tells him they have met before and are both mole men… “Don’t you remember?” He can’t; his memories belong to the thought collector.
Anel Viz’ short story The Thought Collector is a delightful contemporary fairy tale with mystery, romance, and just a hint of that nitty-gritty darkness that the best fairy tales flirt with.
There is enough plot here to make a full-sized novel, honestly; it starts with Travis accidentally having a run-in with Mr. Chauncey, who is a thought collector and steals Travis’ thoughts. Like the reader, Travis is completely in the dark about what that means, but his easy (if annoyed) acceptance of it quickly clues into the fact that not everything is as it seems.
The inventive world-building Viz creates here is constantly surprising and interesting, and very inventive. Travis leaves the Thought Collector behind him, or so he thinks, to go to a night club for some action. This is where the moles come in.
No, not moles on your skin, but moles as in the underground, mostly nocturnal animal. To say more is to actually give too much away from what is an unexpectedly charming sup-plot to Travis’ war with Mr. Chauncey. That war, unfortunately, takes a dark and murderous turn when Travis becomes desperate to get his memory back after a wonderful night spent with Mel, who doesn’t look much like a mole to Travis but insists that he is. In fact, Mel insists that they both are, which doesn’t help Travis’ unsettled frustration about losing part of his memory.
It’s fair warning to say that Travis goes after Mr. Chauncey with murderous intent, even if he doesn’t know it at the outset. When his proposed “business arrangement” to have sex with Mr. Chauncey in order to get his memory back goes wrong, Travis lashes out and the consequences are far more profound than simple murder.
The final twist was one more surprise that fit the world Viz has created really well, creating repercussions for Travis that are both interesting and far-reaching. The story is a fun read, but I have to be honest and say that Travis’ actions in the final third soured the character a little for me. It’s less that he did what he did than that he seemed to have no regrets about his actions anywhere along the line; when he goes to Mel for help, I can’t help but wonder if he’s just using Mel until better comes along. I don’t think that was what Viz was going for, but Travis in the end is a not very sympathetic character. On the other hand, I adored Mel, and hope that he ends up with the good end of the lollipop no matter what tunnel they dig down into.
Reviewer: Cooper West