The Lobster Kings is an imaginative tale full of magic and atmosphere. Although it bogs down a bit in the middle, the beginning and ending of the story are wonderfully storied and paced. With its mythos tied up in the family saga of the Kings family, Zentner's second novel is one of the more interesting works to have been released this year.
The Lobster Kings starts wonderfully. Magic, thrills, and heartbreak are abundant for nearly one hundred pages. I loved the way this novel started. Then the pacing is thrown all off. Suddenly the reader is catapulted into the present; the girl I'd grown to love as a child was suddenly a grown woman. The jump in time was necessary to the story, but it was much too jarring for my tastes. I feel I hadn't really gotten all I wanted to get from young Cordelia. I wanted to see her grow a bit more. At this point, the story sagged a bit too much. While Zentner does a wonderful job painting the scenery, much of the story becomes about the island and the day-to-day routine of “lobstermen.” It was written well and all that, but the story was largely dry (that's not the right word for a story which takes place on the ocean).
The story picks up again in its conclusion and though nothing had gone the way I wanted it to in the beginning, I was able to find some of the threads that I had been following in the beginning of the story. Overall, I wish the tale had been a bit more riveting and magical, but I was by no means disappointed. I never really connected again with Cordelia or her family like I had in those opening pages, and I think this is the book's greatest fault. I loved the characters initially, but something about their aging disconnected me from them. After the jump in time, I never again felt like they were real. I'd hate to say they were flat, because they were very interesting characters, but they lacked the magic that surrounded them. I think the Kings were supposed to be a magical family, but the magic was in the island and their ancestry and in the waters.
Overall, The Lobster Kings is a good story. For a long time now I've been interested in reading Zentner's Touch—love the cover—but haven't gotten around to it. In fact, I've checked it out from the library on three separate occasions, but for whatever reason I always return it unread. This novel has sparked my interest in Zentner's first novel once again; I trust I'll find the magic there that was just out of reach in The Lobster Kings.