The suspense thriller of the year – The Marsh King’s Daughter will captivate you from the start and chill you to the bone.
‘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.
Packed with gripping suspense and powerful storytelling, The Marsh King’s Daughter is a one-more-page, read-in-one-sitting thriller that you’ll remember for ever.
Published 29th June 2017 by Little Brown UK
The Marsh King’s Daughter is a book that’s currently getting a lot of rave reviews, and so I was filled with the usual mix of excitement and apprehension as I started it. Yet within one paragraph I knew it thoroughly deserved all the high praise, and that I too was going to love it. It’s one of those books that literally grabs you – right around the middle, leaving you breathless and tense while frantically turning pages and holding your breath.
It begins when an adult Helena returns home with her two young children to find that her convict father has escaped from prison. Fearing for her family’s lives, Helena knows only she can put an end to whatever her father has planned. Because it was she who put him in prison in the first place and it will be she he targets in his hunt for revenge.
The narrative alternates between the present day game of cat and mouse between Helena and her father and Helena’s past, where the trauma and horror of her birth and upbringing as the daughter of a captor and his captive is slowly revealed. The book is paced so breathtaking well, that I was speeding through the pages, desperately squeezing in just one more chapter and ended up reading it in less than a day.
What made the book so compelling I think, was the contrast between the action thriller present, where the daughter and father chase each other down in a dangerous battle of wit and physical strength, and the harrowing tale of Helena’s childhood. Born to a kidnapped teenager held in captivity, she has no idea there’s anything wrong with her feral life in the wild marsh, idolises her father and knows next to nothing of the modern world she’s secluded and isolated from. Yet the reader can feel and see the sinister reality of her cruel father’s games and control. I thought that the slow dawning of realisation Helena goes through was beautifully written and felt my heart breaking for both her and her mother.
There’s some shocking and violent scenes in The Marsh King’s Daughter, which had me reeling with disgust that anyone can be quite so cruel. Karen Dionne has created in The Marsh King a complex, truly evil villain yet manages to offset this with Helena’s strength, determination and hope. This is a story of survival against all odds, and sheer will and determination to overcome abuse and oppression and protect the ones you love. It’s a conflict of the fine line between love and hate, nature and nurture, and good versus evil. An absolutely gripping read, you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve turned the very last page.
(I read an advance proof copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program)