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The Lobster Kings: A Novel

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,411 ratings  ·  299 reviews
From the internationally acclaimed author of Touch, praised as "breathtaking" (People) and "lovely…at once dreamy and riveting" (Washington Post), comes a powerful family saga steeped in the legends of the sea. Set in a lobster fishing village, The Lobster Kings introduces a fiery and unforgettable heroine, Cordelia Kings.

The Kings family has lived on Loosewood Island for
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by W. W. Norton Company (first published May 6th 2014)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,411 ratings  ·  299 reviews

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May 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
Alexi Zentner's first novel 'Touch' is one that has stuck in my mind, with its evocative setting and wealth of surreal imagery - a deer glittering with gold dust, a building buried for a whole winter under thirty feet of snow, the villain who refused to stay dead - and so his second novel was one of the books I was most looking forward to this year.

Sadly, 'The Lobster Kings' doesn't live up to its predecessor. I found it to be a confused mess of a novel. The dose of magic realism which Zentner
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
"And this will also happen."

Atmosphere! Hands down, my first and last point, Zentner knows how to write (and show, and tell, and dammit soak you into) the atmosphere in which the novel takes place.

Set on an island in the north Atlantic, the book focuses on the live and myths of one family of lobstermen, the Kings. Unexpected scenes of suspense litter the tale, constantly surprising me.

What it comes down to though, is the craft with which the author sets the scenes. Sometimes, I find authors ov
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: june-2014
“This well-crafted story truly captures the beauty and brutality of living by the sea. The characters show what it’s like to have saltwater in your veins and commitment to family and community. Zentner depicts a way of life that is fast disappearing. Perfect for summer reading.”

Lisa Marie Joyce, Portland Public Library & South Portland Public Library, Portland, ME
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful - one of those books where the synopsis of the plot really tells you very little about what the book really IS. Just thinking about the book now, I am immediately back in the atmosphere. I loved the interlacing of the artwork and the mysticism it inspired

2 difficult moments near the beginning - I actually had to take a break for each but felt that it would be worth it to hang in there, and it certainly was.

I received this book through a Goodreads Giveaway, in exchange for an honest and
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meine Meinung

Als ich diesen Roman bei entdeckt habe, war mein Interesse sofort geweckt – ich liebe außergewöhnliche Familiengeschichten und die Kings klangen nach einem ganz besonders faszinierenden Clan.

Der Einstieg in die Geschichte ist mir dann allerding ein bisschen schwergefallen, da es eine Weile dauert, bis die Handlung wirklich ins Rollen kommt. Im Grunde konnte mich der Roman erst ab dem Zeitpunkt, als Protagonistin Cordelia erwachsen ist, richtig fesseln. Der Teil, in dem
Sam Sattler
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-novel
Alexi Zentner’s “The Lobster Kings,” an intriguing family saga told largely through the eyes of Cordelia Kings and Woody, her aging father, is so wonderfully constructed that readers will find it difficult to choose a stopping point between reading sessions.

Members of the King family have run things on Loosewood Island for almost three hundred years. It all started for the Kings when Brumfitt Kings made his way there from Ireland in 1720. Brumfitt would virtually live alone on Loosewood for eig
Pam Forgash
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone!
Seldom does a book capture me and keep me "in" the story as did Alexi Zentner's novel "The Lobster Kings" The descriptive quality to the book is beautiful. I love the ocean, the beach. The setting was palpable. The Kings family is irrevocably tied to the past - to the first lobsterman on Loosewood Island.
Truth and death and the past becomes part of the present. The oldest sister Cordelia brings honest emotion to the pages when relating to her father. This book made me think once again about lif
I absolutely loved this book! It possessed everything I love in a novel: great writing, family and friends, personal character flaws and growth... And I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I loved the author's skill in describing the environment. Beautiful and lyrical. A Superb atmospheric experience. Plus, the book had a mythical component (which I really don't seek out in stories) that I found fascinating. I must track down another book by Mr. Zentner soon. I will miss these character ...more
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. A great story about family, loss, and redemption. I was still thinking about the characters after I put it down. I love that there is some myth/magic to the story. There were some violent parts that were hard to read.
Darlene Cruz
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Awe-inspiring, haunting, heartfelt novel. This is the best novel I read so far. I could not put the book down but when I had to all I kept thinking about was I needed to know what happened next. The synopsis of this book gave you a small insight of what to expect but when you start reading the story you will definitely get sucked into the depths of Cordelia King's love of being a fishing lobster-man on their inherit right island call, "Loose Island." I was spellbound by Cordelia, her strength an ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, can-lit
I seem to have an affinity for stories situated in the Maritime provinces, even though I have only ever been to PEI. Something about the simple yet often dangerous way of life and the remoteness from many modern conveniences makes for engrossing stories and fantastic characters.

The setting for this novel is more recent than most I have read, and yet the way of life still retains many aspects that are centuries old. I felt that the characters were well developed and the family relationships rang
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
A real page-turner that, while it has elements of a thriller, mystery, and fantasy, is more of a story about a daughter who truly loves her father. I've never caught lobsters, dealt with crystal meth tweakers or lived on a coastal town, but those aren't at the keys to getting something out of this. If you have had anything close to the kind of relationship Cordelia and Woody have, you'll find a lot of truth here. Recommended.
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
The sea as a source of life and death, the maker of cads and kings, is an important theme of Alexi Zentner’s new novel, The Lobster Kings.

In the 300 plus years since the first Kings, Brumfitt, made his permanent home on Loosewood Island, the Kings family has never lost its grip on their rocky throne. Through good times and bad, the residents of the close-knit island have turned to a Kings for advice and decisions: “…everybody understood that the Kings’ word was the final word…the few times he (W
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The Lobster Kings is written by Alexi Zentner is a fictional semi-fantastical story about Loosewood Island located between Canada and the US. The book revolves around the history of the Kings family.

Cordelia Kings is the daughter of Woody Kings, and comes from a long line of Kings which can trace their ancestry back to the original Lobster fisher of the islands Brumfitt Kings three hundred years earlier. Cord
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I never read Shakespeare when I was young, other than Romeo and Juliet (9th grade English) and Taming of the Shrew (because I wanted to see how well it matched the Taylor-Burton film which was not very well at all). So when someone says a story is based on Hamlet, The Tempest... whatever... and that it's a tragedy, I just have to take them at their word.

This is, by the author's own admission, based on King Lear and set on a small island somewhere in the waters between Maine and Nova Scotia --
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of "those" books that this reader didn't want to end!

The story "flips" effortlessly from current times (2014) back to the 1720's and back again.

Set on Loosewood Island, claimed by both the USA and Canada, Brumfitt Kings' family have lived, and worked the waters for lobsters, for all these 300 years. Brumfitt is said to have been the only man on the island for many years, and that his wife was a "selkie" who came to him from the waters and returned - she might even still be in the w
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
(originally published at

The basics: The Lobster Kings is the story of the Kings family, who have lived and fished off of Loosewood Island, Maine for generations, beginning with Brumfitt King, a famous artist. The current generation of Kings, and the focus of most of the novel, are patriarch Woody and his three daughters, but mostly Cordelia, who loves the sea as much as her father.

My thoughts: There's an ethereal quality to the writing and setting of this novel
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Kings family have fished lobster in Loosewood Island, Maine, for nearly three hundred years. They have always been successful, but times are changing. Woody Kings, the current patriarch, is getting old and his health is slowly fading. Lobster fishing has always been a male-dominated profession, in this rugged, marine world. His only son died young and he now has three grown daughters. His eldest, Cordelia, is the only one interested in carrying on the family legacy, so Woody passes the torch ...more
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, fiction
Let's see, a beautiful remote setting on an island off the coast of Maine/New Brunswick, it's got that going for it. A female protagonist who's smart and focused, also yes. That protagonist, Cordelia, is the scion (however much her father sometimes doesn't want her to be) of the Kings family, who have lived on Loosewood Island for 300 or so years. As much as anyone is in charge of the Island, they are. So you've got personal Kings (and man, that last name kept messing with me, it's hard to read ...more
Corinne Wasilewski
I absolutely adored the first 100 pages of this book: the story of the Kings as children, Cordelia's love for the sea and tradition, and the magical realism elements. If the novel had continued on in this vein I would have given it a full 5 stars. Unfortunately, the story took a significant turn with the James Harbor drug smuggling/dealing element which didn't appeal to me so much.

I grew up in New Brunswick and am very familiar with Charlotte county and the Fundy Isles. Loosewood Island seems ve
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
In "The Lobster Kings," Alexi Zentner weaves a story that feels at once perfectly realistic and like a legend borrowed from another era. His modern-day tale (meth dealers, cell phones, female ship captains) unfolds on an island on the U.S.-Canada border. Loosewood Island and its hard-working lobstermen may be fictional, but by the end of the book just the description of the harbor full of boats brought me to tears. This novel owes something to Shakespeare's "King Lear" but has an entirely origin ...more
Melissa Acuna
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Maine Island life is rapidly changing, but this is a pitch perfect tale of family life on a small Maine island, and the beauty and hardship of life in the Gulf of Maine. The author is a master at setting the scene and unlike so many authors from away, who visit for a few weeks in the summer and think that they understand Maine, he nails both the joys of island life and the heartbreaking sorrow that so many fishing families know all too well.
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Kings family, lobstermen on Loosewood island for over three hundred years, are blessed with the bounty of the sea but cursed with the death of the firstborn son of every generation. Cordelia, eldest child and first female Kings to own her own lobster boat must contend with this mythical heritage, the aging of her legendary father, and the neighboring islanders poaching and drug running in the Loosewood waters. An utterly absorbing read.
Mar 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
I found Zentner's second novel lacked the technical perfection of Touch. I read an ARC, so perhaps the published version will be a bit more polished. The story is good and the characters are engaging, but the narrative voice can get a bit clumsy and certain sections felt shallow. Still, I enjoyed reading this novel. My disappointment comes from the hopes and expectations I built after my moving experience with Touch. The Lobster Kings did not deliver in the same way.
Laura Blackwood
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, vivid, heart-wrenching, and true to life in an island fishing community, which is where I live. I absolutely loved the way Zentner painted this story - completely immersing the reader in sights and emotion from beginning to end.
Jane Russo
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The writing is superb and you immediately get drawn into the story. I felt as if I was a part of the story, just off to the side quietly observing. When tragedy strikes I felt it personally. Highly recommend this as a summer read.
Stacy Bearse
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Another great American novel. The focus is on a family living on a remote island off the coast of Maine. The rich, complex story is tough to characterize, other than to say that it is about family, fishing, heritage, tragedy, love and conflict. Keep your eye on this young author.
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Lobster Kings is a wonderful literary novel. The main character got under my skins and I found myself very emotionally involved. Zentner does a terrific job giving and withholding information. I'm planning on getting a copy of his first novel and look forward to future ones.
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is my kind of book: atmospheric, salt soaked, with a haunting narrative, a not to Shakespeare, a touch of magical realism, and incandescent prose. Loved it.
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
An inventive and beautiful, modern telling of King Lear. Bonus points for using one of my favorite places as the background.
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Around the Year i...: The Lobster Kings, by Alexi Zentner 3 15 Oct 16, 2016 06:45AM  

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Alexi Zentner lives in upstate New York with his wife and children. His novels have been published in sixteen countries and more than a dozen languages. He is the author of the novel, COPPERHEAD, forthcoming from Viking Penguin on July 9, 2019. He is also the author of the internationally acclaimed novels, THE LOBSTER KINGS, and TOUCH. Under the pseudonym Ezekiel Boone, Alexi is the author of the ...more