The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner © 2014 Norton
The Kings family founded Loosewood Island and rule it to this day. The Kings family are lobstermen, and rich lobsterman because their ancestor, Brumfitt Kings, produced paintings which are now highly regarded and valuable. The Kings family is also cursed in that every generation’s first born son dies at sea.
The curse bit the current generation, taking Cordelia’s little brother, and leaving her to carry on the manly family tradition. Will she be up to the task? Her father’s health is failing and Loosewood’s lobster waters are being invaded by James Harbor fishermen and drug runners.
It started out good. I did want to see if Cordelia, a spoiled daddy’s girl, would grow into a kinder, wiser island matriarch. I wanted to see if the ocean mysticism in Brumfitt’s paintings would invade today’s reality.
Ultimately, I got neither. Cordelia’s “coming of age” turned out to be a selfish, needless act of vigilantism that hurt the people Cordelia was supposed to care for. Yet, Zentner treated Cordelia’s self-centered brutality like a great deed which left her smelling like a rose. And the supernatural undercurrent, hinted at throughout the book in references to Brumfitt’s paintings, never amounted to more than hints. The big problem was Cordelia’s failure to grow. She started out privileged and self-righteous and stayed that way to the end, learning nothing different.
Zentner crafted a cool mythology for the island, and his descriptions of today’s island and the lobster business were very well done. His dialogue and character descriptions were excellent, too. So, if you read Kings for those elements, you’ll be pleased. Just don’t expect the plot to go anywhere. I need the plot to go somewhere, so Kings must sink to the Davy Jones’ locker of my recycling bin.