The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
Published: June 29th, 2017 by Little, Brown Book Group
Rating: ★★★ – I liked it.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.
Synopsis: When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.
No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.
And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.
I requested this book because it sounded like an interesting read. A woman who was raised in the marshes? An escaped criminal? I’m in. I quite liked this book, but there were also some things I didn’t love about it.
This book is about Helena. One part of the book follows Helena as an adult, after her father escapes prison. The other part of the book follows Helena when she was a child, growing up in the marsh. This gives you both the thrilling aspect of an escaped convict she has to chase, and the emotional connection she has with him.
I liked reading about Helena’s life in the marsh. Growing up without any contact with the outside world seems nearly impossible to me. She only had her mom and dad, and that’s all she knew. So her dad taught her how to survive in the marsh. How to hunt, how to disappear without being seen, how to track game, etc. As a child, she loved those “adventures”. And she idolized her dad.
I liked reading about her relationship with her father. Obviously, it’s going to be a complex one. As a child, she adored him. She never knew he kidnapped her mom or that he was a bad man. He was just her dad, and he taught her everything she knows. As an adult, she knows what he did and how wrong it is. She knows that her dad is a terrible man. Yet he is still her dad. I found it intriguing to look at a guy I know is terrible through the eyes of an innocent child.
I liked reading about her growth as a person. Especially in regards to her mom. While I was reading, I thought she was terrible to her mom as a child. And we can read how much adult-Helena regrets that. How she just didn’t understand as a child, and now wishes she had been more compassionate.
I liked reading about her life as an adult too. How she used the skills she learned as a child to make money. For example, she goes bear hunting and her jam-making business is her main source of income. How she still has trouble understanding the rest of us at times, and the way we live our lives now.
I didn’t like the excessive descriptions of hunting. I can deal with some animal deaths, but there were so many in this book. I don’t need to know how you hunt for bears, how you shoot a deer or trap a rabbit. I honestly don’t need to read about you killing animals 1000000 times. I know that was a big part of her life as a child, because that’s how they got their food. But I just couldn’t read any more of it.
I didn’t like the fact that Helena felt she alone could find her dad. In a way, I do understand. If he has made it to the marsh, there is no way the police will find him by themselves. He knows the marshes like the back of his hand, and has no trouble disappearing in them. Helena has a much bigger chance of finding him, because he trained her himself. But why couldn’t she just go to the police, tell them she was their best shot at finding him and guide them through the marsh? Why did she have to go alone?
I was also a tad disappointed with the big reveal on how she and her mom got out of the marsh, and how her dad was caught. It wasn’t the epic showdown I was expecting.
I quite enjoyed reading about Helena’s life, both as an adult and a child. What I loved most was seeing Helena’s dad through her eyes. As a reader, you know he’s a terrible person and a criminal. But she only sees her dad, and doesn’t know any different. That’s such an interesting perspective. I did enjoy this book, but there were some parts I had an issue with.