I”m so excited to feature author Karen Dionne on my blog today, and in particular her masterpiece The Marsh King’s Daughter. A gripping story set in a remote location of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Helena Pelletier races against time to find her father. A dark and scary tale and so very well written, it drove me full-throttle to the end in one sitting. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of a few paragraphs from the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the same name, which headed the chapters of Helena’s past.
THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
“Brilliant….About as good as a thriller can be.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[A] nail-biter perfect for Room fans.”—Cosmopolitan
“Sensationally good psychological suspense.”—Lee Child
Praised by Karin Slaughter and Megan Abbott, The Marsh King’s Daughter is the mesmerizing tale of a woman who must risk everything to hunt down the dangerous man who shaped her past and threatens to steal her future: her father.
Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a business that fills her days. But she also has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and despite her father’s sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too…until she learned precisely how savage he could be.
More than twenty years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn’t know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marsh. The police begin a manhunt, but Helena knows they don’t stand a chance. Knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King—because only one person was ever trained by him: his daughter.
A Michigan Notable Book!
Print Length: 314 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0735213003
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (June 13, 2017)
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
WOW! Another fabulous and unique read. The Marsh King’s Daughter is suspenseful thriller set in the remote swamps of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. It is the story of Helena Pelletier, born to a woman who was kidnapped at the age of 14 by a sociopath. Taking the reader back in time to an isolated setting; a cabin with no electricity or running water, and where the sun is the only light to live by, Helena’s connection to the outside world is a National Geographic magazine and the occasional drone of a plane.
The book alternates between two time frames. The present, where Helena is married with two daughters and the past where we learn how Helena came to be. In the present, her father escapes from prison, having killed two correctional officers, and Helena is the only one who can bring him to justice. As she tracks him through her old stamping ground in the UP, she recalls her childhood living in a dilapidated cabin in the swamp. Here, we learn about the abuse and confinement both she and her mother suffer, which makes this story so utterly heart-breaking. Helena grows up tough, learning the survival skills necessary for wilderness life—tracking, hunting, shooting—while at the same time being unaware of her mother’s past. Somewhat insensitive to her mother’s dilemma, she idolizes her father while enduring his torture and becoming more able to predict his punishments.
The descriptions of the UP are vivid and well researched. I felt I was right there with Helena, surviving the elements and searching for tracks in the terrain. She’s a strong protagonist, one you definitely want to root for. The survival techniques the author describes are top-notch. There aren’t many books with this much explanation that didn’t leave you feeling exhausted from a history lesson. They were cleverly drip-fed throughout the book, and left you wanting more.
I found it hard to stomach Helena’s indifference towards her mother at the beginning, but I realise her mother was too weak to stop the abuse, and the sheer isolation made it impossible to run for help. Every effort would no doubt be hampered by the father’s brutal nature. I did question Helena’s hesitation when she had a clean shot of her father at the beginning, and wondered why she didn’t just pop him. Or disable him, at the very least.
The general ‘feel’ after finishing this book is of a stolen childhood. One that wouldn’t have provided the young Helena with any social skills since she had no interaction with other children of her age. Same as her mother who would have compared her life before she was kidnapped to the cruelty she experienced afterwards. It was desolate and moody, characteristics I enjoy in a novel.
I would definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoy spine-tingling, adventure suspense.
About The Author:
Karen Dionne is the author of The Marsh King’s Daughter, also titled HOME in the UK, a dark, psychological suspense novel published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US and in 25 other countries.
Karen is co-founder of the online writers community Backspace, and organizes the Salt Cay Writers Retreat held every other year on a private island in the Bahamas. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology.
Other books by Karen Dionne