The Taker by Alma Katsu

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The Taker by Alma Katsu

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Katie Pullen
Reviewed by Katie Pullen
Summary: When Lanny McIlvrae turns up at A&E claiming she has killed a man and left him in the woods, Dr Luke Findley is both shocked and intrigued. What follows is Lanny's dark and fantastic story spanning two hundred years, a story that is captivating, intriguing and downright brilliant. This is one debut novel not to miss. Alma Katsu was kind enough to talk to us about her book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: April 2011
Publisher: Century
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846058172

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When Dr Luke Findley begins his nightshift at Aroostook County Hospital in St Andrews, Maine, things are quiet until Lanny McIlvrae is brought in by the police. Lanny is covered in blood and claims she has killed a man and left him in the woods. Desperate to escape, Lanny quickly asks for Luke's help, but he is not sure at first, so Lanny decides to tell Luke her life story, a story that begins in the early Puritan settlement of St Andrews in 1809 and spans nearly two hundred years, taking Lanny from her home to Boston and beyond. A story that is rich, imaginative and entirely authentic, filling the majority of the novel, and there wasn't a moment when I questioned her reliability as she tells Luke everything, chapter by chapter, as he helps her to escape, slowly drawing him and the reader into her world.

As a debut novel, The Taker is remarkable, polished and an astonishingly good read from start to finish. I particularly like the cover and blurb, both of which give little away but completely draw you in to another world. So I was hooked before I had even begun, and after the first chapter I knew this was going to be an extraordinary read.

The novel is full of gothic mystery and intrigue, and Katsu had me asking many questions about Lanny and her story as she cleverly manages to not quite spell things out for the reader, but in such a way that it makes the book more enjoyable and compelling rather than frustrating. Katsu has packed her novel with some rich and wonderful themes, the primary of which is love in all its guises. Love is apparent throughout as Katsu explores with authority and great imagination, religion, alchemy, magic, passion, desperation, betrayal and sex, to name but a few.

Her central character Lanny is consumed by love. She is something of an enigma when we first meet her, and manages to maintain this status to some degree as her story unfolds. Her love is directed towards a beautiful man named Jonathan who she has grown up with and loved since childhood. Her desperation for Jonathan's love causes her to do terrible things and ultimately results in her being sent away from her home by her parents. There were times when I loved her and times when I disliked her, but always wanted to know where her story was headed next and was almost disappointed at times when the novel took me back to the present day and Dr Luke.

Despite this I was curious to see how Lanny's tale would impact on Luke. Would he believe her, for example? It's clear from the start that Luke is very impressionable when it comes to Lanny and craves the excitement she represents. He is unhappily divorced, both his parents have died, and he doesn't have all that much going on in his life, so it's no surprise that he decides to help Lanny to escape, becoming embroiled with both her and her past as he listens to her story.

There are many more characters and a great deal more to Lanny's story than I have revealed so far as this is one of those books you have to discover and hopefully lose yourself in. Although it may all seem a little unbelievable at first, Katsu writes with the confidence of an accomplished writer, and effortlessly weaves her narratives together, producing a unique and exciting read. I have to admire her imagination for coming up with the story in the first place and executing it so convincingly and I sincerely hope she achieves all the success with this book that she so richly deserves.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further Reading Suggestion: For an equally brilliant book, try The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson or The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Buy The Taker by Alma Katsu at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Taker by Alma Katsu at

Buy The Taker by Alma Katsu at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Taker by Alma Katsu at

Bookinterviews.jpg Alma Katsu was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.


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