Monday, 15 May 2017

Review for The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King's Daughter 
by Karen Dionne 
Publisher: Sphere
Release: 29th June 2017
Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller
Source: Proof copy borrowed from the lovely Broadbean’s Books

" 'I was born two years into my mother's captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn't have adored my father.'

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."

The Marsh King's Daughter was nothing like I expected it to be but in the best possible way! The book is narrated by Helena a woman born into captivity who spent the first twelve years of her life hidden away in the marshlands. Her whole world is made up solely of her teenage mother, her captor - who is also her father - and their daily struggle to survive in the wilderness.

Skip to the present day and Helena is a grown woman with her own husband and two young daughters who after her escape has severed all ties to her childhood in the marsh. But when her father escapes from prison she knows that he'll come after her and that it could be her daughters that he takes next.

In order to outsmart her father she has to become the daughter he raised - ruthless, feral, a skilled tracker and murderer so that she finds him before he can find her. But when it comes down to the love of a manipulative parent and the instinct to protect your children which would win?

Helena is far from your typical victim. Throughout the book we see her struggle with the side of her that is very much her father's daughter and her own complicated feelings towards him. It took me a while to really understand Helena as a character but once I did I found her fascinating to read about. I found it so interesting to read a book where the victim isn't scared of her kidnapper and instead struggles with feelings of adoration and love towards them despite knowing that she shouldn't feel that way. Helena's characterization and growth throughout the novel was the real highlight of this book for me.

The story is told in both the past and the present which kept the plot moving along at lightning speed. Although I loved the game of cat and mouse that Helena and her father played in the present day, it was the chapters set back when they lived together in the marsh that really held my attention. I loved learning about what Helena and her mother's lives were like and the cruelties that they'd experience, not only at the hands of their kidnapper, but also from the hard-living conditions of a life of solitude in the marsh.

Overall this is a story of our internal struggle between right and wrong and how that perception can become skewered for somebody who grew up idolizing and loving such a cruel parent. It's about survival and what it means to be a survivor. It's about the relationship we have with our parents and the thin line between love and hate, and it’s about the effect that our experiences as children have on our development. The Marsh King's Daughter is a phenomenal thriller and one that I'd recommend to fans of Room and anyone looking for something different and unexpected from the genre.

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