The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne
|The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: What happens when you're the person who put your father in gaol when he's escaped, armed and dangerous and you still love him? What happens when your husband doesn't know who you are? Highly recommended and unputdownable.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320/9h54m||Date: June 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
Helena Pelletier was having a normal afternoon: making deliveries of jams and jellies to her sales outlets and taking her younger daughter Marigold to play at the side of the lake. It was on the journey back to meet her older daughter from the school bus that she heard the news: the notorious child abductor and rapist Jacob Holbrook, known as the Marsh King, had escaped from prison, killing two guards in the process. Helena knew that she was in danger: Jacob Holbrook was her father and she was the daughter of the woman he had abducted when she was fifteen years old. She'd been brought up until the age of twelve as a captive. There was another problem too: she'd never actually got around to telling her husband about her background.
Although Helena and her mother had been captives, Helena was a captive in the loosest sense of the word. She never went to school but had learned to read from some old National Geographics in the cabin where they lived on the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. She roamed the woods and her father had brought her up to be a killer. When, at the age of twelve they escaped Helena was completely unaware of the niceties of 'civilised' life, which was particularly difficult as she lived in the glare of publicity. At eighteen she changed her name and began a new life, free of her history. It wasn't that she tried to hide her past from her husband, it was just that it never seemed to be the right time to explain who she had been. Stephen would find out when the police came to see what Helena knew of Holbrook's escape. When Stephen, Iris and Mari go to his parents for safety, Helena knows that there's only one person capable of tracking Holbrook - and that's her.
I was hooked before the end of the first chapter and nothing much else seemed to matter until I'd got to the end and found out what happened - and what had happened in the past. It's one of those books where you've got to keep reading 'just a little more' and I finished it in under twenty-four hours. The story of Helena's tracking of Holbrook (and it's tracking in the truest sense of the word) is interspersed with the story of the twelve years she spent in captivity. It was a harsh life, but Helena didn't know that it was captivity - she felt that she had more freedom then than when she was rescued and shoehorned into the school system. She might have been isolated at the cabin, but she adored her father, even when his punishments became abusive. It wasn't long before she knew the wilderness as well as Holbrook and it's this knowledge that she uses to good effect when she goes after her him, knowing that it's her family he's heading for.
It's a stunning book. The writing's simple and direct: it catches you up and carries you along, but it's the character of Helena that shines through. You appreciate all she's done to make a reasonable life for herself and her family, but you know too that not far under the surface is a woman who has been trained to kill. You might know that Jacob Holbrook is a brutal thug, but you can understand what Helena feels for him: Karen Dionne handled that part particularly skillfully, but then the whole book is powerful in its telling of a very unusual story.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag. As well as reading the book I listened to an audio download, which I bought myself, and which was narrated by Emily Rankin. She was the perfect choice, with an excellent range of voices which all remained distinct. I'd happily listen to a great deal more from her.
If you enjoy this book we think that you'll also enjoy The Obsession by Nora Roberts.
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