Review: 'The Marsh King's Daughter' invokes raw emotion

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Posted: Jun 20, 2017 10:32 AM
Review: 'The Marsh King's Daughter' invokes raw emotion

"The Marsh King's Daughter" (G.P. Putnam's Sons), by Karen Dionne

Karen Dionne takes a standard story involving the kidnapping of a woman and the life she experiences with her captor and elevates it to a new level in "The Marsh King's Daughter."

Jacob Holbrook found a 14-year-old girl and lured her away with a "lost dog" routine. He took her deep into the marshlands of upper Michigan where they lived in a remote cabin. She gave birth to a daughter, who grew up unaware of her mother's background or why her father would sometimes do extremely cruel things. It wasn't until Helena was a teen that the truth was revealed and she and her mother were able to escape Jacob's clutches. He was finally captured and sent to prison for his crimes.

The media frenzy that occurred after their rescue was difficult for both of them. Her father was dubbed "The Marsh King," and when the fervor died, they both tried to avoid publicity.

She never saw her father after his capture, and although she had some good memories of spending time with him, it was time for her to move on. Ten years later, she was happily married with two young girls. Then her father escaped from prison.

The way the story unfolds both captivates and disturbs. Since Helena is telling the story, she brings a lack of understanding and naivety to the tale that makes everything more vivid in the reader's mind. Her past and eventual realization of what's truly going on makes this novel resonate. The present day and Helena's eventual confrontation with her estranged father is necessary for closure, but at the same time, it's a bit of a letdown.

The story's finale is a bit unnecessary since by then everyone loves Helena and we care more about her growth than revenge. That aside, Dionne has written a book that invokes raw emotion mixed in with the turning of pages.