The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne – Book Review

At the age of 14, Helena Pelletier’s mother was lured away from home by Jacob Holbrook.  Even though there was an extensive search, she was never found.  At the age of 16, she gave birth to Helena, and they all lived in the wilderness in the middle of a marsh until Helena saved her mother from certain death brought about by her father.  Years later Jacob escapes prison, kills two police officers and comes looking for Helena and her two young daughters.  It’s up to Helena to track him through the marsh to keep her family safe.

The novel moves through time by way of flashbacks of Helena’s early life with her mother and father in the marsh.  Her love of Jacob is complicated.  He treated her well one moment and horribly the next.  She revered Jacob for years since he encouraged her hunting and tracking skills.  Helena was interested in learning how to survive in the wilderness, and Jacob encouraged her behavior as a means to marginalize her mother.  Her lack of understanding of her mother is at the fore in this novel, and Helena ends up understanding her mother much more than she ever did before, since Jacob’s prison escape has forced her to re-evaluate her childhood, and come to an understanding of what really had been going on.

I found this novel very compelling.  The backstory was captivating, as was the hunt for Jacob.  Helena grows as a person during the hunt for her father and works through her history as she has never done before.  A thrilling thriller.  I highly recommend this novel.  Well done, Dionne!

Karen Dionne

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