The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
Published by Penguin Audio on June 13, 2017
Genre(s): fiction, suspense, thriller
Format & Length: audiobook, 09:59:16
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The Marsh King’s Daughter is mesmerizing psychological suspense, the story 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.
At last, Helena Pelletier has the life she deserves. A loving husband, two beautiful daughters, a business that fills her days. Then she catches an emergency news announcement and realizes she was a fool to think she could ever leave her worst days behind her.
Helena 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. No electricity, no heat, no running water, not a single human beyond the three of them. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature—fishing, tracking, hunting. And despite her father’s odd temperament and sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too . . . until she learned precisely how savage a person 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 marshland he knows better than anyone else in the world. The police commence 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.
The Marsh King’s Daughter was a wild and entertaining ride through a whole new world to me.
“And just like that, the walls of my carefully constructed second life come tumbling down.”
Taking place in the marsh of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this follows Helena’s story, who was the product of an abduction. It’s told from two timelines: the present, when she discovers her father has escaped from prison; and the past, as she reminisces about her childhood. The switches between the present and the past were well done, keeping me invested in both timelines and constantly leaving me wanting to know more about both. Additionally, there are sections throughout quoting the fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, which offers a nice parallel to the events of the story.
Although this has a well constructed plot, where this book really shined was its characterization and atmosphere. As the main character, Helena is particularly well drawn, but viewing the other characters through her eyes also showed them to be complex and unique. There’s an incredible sense of place here as well, and it wasn’t until after I finished reading that I discovered why. Karen Dionne actually lived in the Upper Peninsula for some time, and her knowledge definitely helped to add realism to a story that seems unimaginable. So much so that it gave the book a cinematic quality – I could easily see this being turned into a movie that I’d watch in a heartbeat.
The narration in this audiobook was solid. Oftentimes it’s difficult to listen to audiobooks that switch timelines or have a lot of flashbacks, but that was not the case here. This was written in a way that always made it clear whether you were in the past or the present, making this a great listening experience.
Although The Marsh King’s Daughter was the first book I’ve read by Karen Dionne, it won’t be the last! Recommended.