The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King's Daughter

Karen Dionne

"Sensationally good psychological suspense--I loved this book." — #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child

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Praised by Lee Child and Karin Slaughter, and sure to thrill fans of The Girl on the Train and The Widow, 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.

Advance Galley Reviews

I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved it. A young teen is kidnapped, raped, made to bear a girl child, and held captive for the next 14 years. But it's not her story. It's the girl child's story and she lets you know that right up front. Helena, the product of her kidnapped mother and criminal father is unaware of her circumstance of birth and that her upbringing is any different than anyone else's. The book spins between Helena's memories of her youth to current time when her father has broken out of prison. Tales of her youth dovetail neatly into each chapter of the current time giving a framework for what she is doing and why. Raised by a non-conventional and, at times, brutally cruel father and a seemingly indifferent mother, she identifies mostly with her father and shares his passion for the outdoors and living a subsistence lifestyle. Helena is a strong character that sees both good and bad and eventually evil in her father but to her, he is still her father as she spent her formative years without knowledge that her mother had been kidnapped. After her father breaks out of prison, Helena determines that her father is luring her with the game of tracking he taught her as a child. The hunt is on, if for no other reason than to protect her own daughters from her predator father. There were times it felt like the author was a male as, Helena, the main character owned her place in the wild and was believable in her skills not normally found in female characters. I loved that.

Helena is happily married with two daughters, Iris and Mari. She has her own business selling jelly and jam to local businesses and online. Her husband Stephen sells lighthouse photographs. Life is going well for them, and Helena has buried her true identity from everyone, even Stephen. All of that is threatened when Helena hears a news alert on the radio about an escaped prisoner. He is armed and dangerous, his name is Jacob Holbrook aka The Marsh King. Her father. “Come inside,” Stephen says. Not to me, but to them. He drops my hand and leads the officers across our front porch and into our house. And just like that, the walls of my carefully constructed second life come tumbling down. After reading the synopsis for this book, I knew this was a book I wanted to read. I was expecting a dramatic hunt for the Marsh King, while Helena tries to protect her family. While this is true on some level, it’s actually a whole lot more. What I wasn’t expecting is to hear in such great detail about Helena’s life, while living in the marsh, from the time she was born until her escape. The storyline goes back and forth between current day and life while living in the marsh. The marsh storyline is so well written I felt like I was reading a true story of a young girl, born in captivity, raised by a narcissistic father and a mother who feared him. It was absolutely fascinating to me, on a psychological level. I loved that the story was told from the perspective of Helena, rather than her mother. Helena gives a tense, disturbing, and yet honest account of her world and life with her parents. This is a fantastic story! It’s a suspenseful, troubling story of relationships, family, and even love. I highly recommend it and think it will be a top summer read. Thank you Penguin – First to Read for the opportunity to read and review this book for my honest opinion.

I was fascinated by this book. That's not to say I wasn't able to put it down, I was (at least until the last hundred pages), but the way the author unfolded the story felt true. I couldn't relate to our main character most of the time, for reasons which will be obvious when you start reading, but I did feel like I was given the information I need at the right time to understand her and her decisions. I loved the fairy tale woven into the chapter beginnings-felt it truly added a layer to the story. At times, parts of the story were hard to read due to the nature of their content but I don't think that would surprise anyone familiar with the storyline, it just hurt my heart and stayed with me awhile. I believe that means I wasn't invested! I would recommend this book if you enjoy books that allow you to see things from another perspective or to step in the shoes of someone who is likely vastly different from you. I enjoyed this read and will look for the author's other works in the future.

I can't imagine growing up in captivity but not knowing that you were being held captive. This alternates between present day for Helena and her past where she and her mother were prisoners for the first 12 years of her life. Something you never think about is that when you grow up a certain way, you don't realize that it may not be what most people consider normal. The feelings Helena has towards her mother and father throughout were extremely interesting to me. Since her mother was taken when she was only 14 there are so many things she hadn't yet learned or experienced. I can't imagine having a child so young and one who didn't understand the situation. Although their story was famous, since Helena changed her name, her husband doesn't even know about her background until her father escapes from prison. With conflicting emotions she sets out to "track" him knowing that she has a better chance of finding him than anyone else. I highly recommend this book! It was extremely interesting and suspenseful.

This is a great story. I’ll definitely be reading more books by this author. It’s a faced paced story and I didn’t want to put it down.

This book is not based on a true story but the whole time I was reading it I really felt like it was real. The main character is and how she tells her story are just amazingly written. Slips from the present to the past seamlessly. Overall, a really great book.

The news reports on the trauma and trials of kidnap victims who are held captive for years but I have never considered the story of a child born into and raised in that captivity. This novel tells both the story of Helena's upbringing by her captive, abused, young mother and the man who abducted her, and Helena's integration into the norms of our society. She reinvents herself in an attempt to "fit in", marries, and is raising two daughters. The "Marsh King", the father she helped imprison, escapes and the novel tells the strange twists that reunite them. I became almost obsessed with this novel - the psychological implications, the back story of Helena's life, and the current drama of the escaped Marsh King in search of the daughter who left him. I wanted to know the ending but didn't want the book to end. I look forward to more by Karen Dionne.

This book really did not work for me, I could not connect at all with any of the characters. The story is told from Helena's point of view about her escaped from prison father The Marsh King. Helena was born into captivity, the captor being her father. I feel that, in my opinion, Helena glorified her father. He taught her the skills to survive in the wilderness and that alone will help Helena track The Marsh King down. The story itself is very well written. I just did not enjoy this book at all.

I really enjoyed this book! Helena had quite a different upbringing than the one she is giving her daughters, raised in the marsh by her father. Growing up, she admires him and loves him as he all but molds her into a mini him, even nicknaming her "little shadow". When she finally finds out the truth, it is jarring. She loves her father and while she knows he is cruel at times the thought that he kidnapped and raped her mother, stuns her. The Marsh Kings Daughter alternates between Helena's time in the marsh with her father and mother and the present as she uses the skills her father taught her to track him after his escape from prison. Helena is smart, resourceful, and definitely her father's daughter. Can she find him before he finds her family? I found the ending to be slightly rushed but still this was a thrilling read. Definitely 4 stars and I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good thriller.

For me, this book wasn't so much about Helena's hunt for her father or about protecting her family from him - that's just a side plot. The main thrust of this book is the fantastic job the author does of placing the reader in the mind of Helena, who grew up thinking her family was normal and not realizing until much later how different they really were. It's not surprising that Helena would enjoy spending time with her father in the marsh trapping, hunting, and learning to provide for herself in the wilderness. It's also not surprising that the lack of knowledge and understanding Helena has of her mother leads to their strained relationship, and how bitter her mother is towards Helena's relationship with her father. As a reader, it's hard to sympathize with the mother who appears to be so cold and selfish from Helena's point of view, when she is the one who is truly beaten down and mourning her own lost childhood while Helena gets to revel in hers. At the same time, from Helena's limited perspective, her father is an unpredictable mix of educational, loving, controlling, and psychotic who relegates the mother to a traditional female role while encouraging Helena to embrace less traditional activities. The author manages to relate a story of a girl growing up off the grid with no companions outside her parents with limited resources who is surviving, even thriving, in these conditions. The fact that Helena is the product of a kidnapping and rape is almost forgotten in the telling and, as a result, the occasional remembrance of which makes the tale even more terrifying. The complexity of the collective psyche of these family members is captivating and makes this book a fascinating read.

The Marsh King’s Daughter is a gritty thriller about Helena, the daughter of young kidnap victim who was held for over 12 years in a remote cabin. Helena grew up with her frightened and abused mother and her psychotic father. At some point, Helena and her mother manage to get away and the father is captured and put in prison for kidnapping and murder. He escapes years later and this is where the story picks up. The Marsh King’s Daughter checked all the boxes for me. It captured my interest from the beginning, was difficult to put down and the ending was hair-raising. The story is told moving from past to present and using Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale by the same name as the opening to each chapter. Hunting is mentioned in great detail in a good bit of the book, as the main characters were living off the grid, with hunting being a big part of their survival. Helena learned to hunt and track at a young age, and these skills are pivotal to the story. Obviously the topics of mental and physical abuse are part of the story, but there is only the slightest mention of anything sexual. Readers are not privy to what Helena’s mother endured immediately after her kidnapping until near the end of the story and that information is not told in great detail. This is Helena’s story and we are given her point of view only. Her mother remains somewhat of a mystery, but for some reason that seems to add to the story. My curiosity would love to hear the mother’s version of the story as well, but this book was captivating written with only Helena’s viewpoint. This is a great book for readers who love an engaging thriller and wilderness story all rolled up into a neat little package. I loved it--it’s my favorite thriller of year. Many thanks to First to Read for allowing me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Holy Smokes! This was a fast read. Great story and kept you wanting to read till the end. Always the best kind of books.

This was a very compelling and entertaining book. I thought the story telling style was fantastic, with bits from the present and the past. It was fascinating to read about Helena’s childhood on the marsh and the concept of life without all the modern day conveniences. Many of the events of her childhood were horrible and it’s amazing she turned out as well as she did under the circumstances. The characters were interesting and well written. The relationships between the characters were complex and multi-faceted. I enjoyed this book a great deal and would definitely be interested in reading more from this author!

Wow! I can't even begin to formulate how this book made me feel. I wanted to read this book, because it was recommended for someone who loved A Girl on the Train. Instead, it reminded me a lot more of something that might be shown on Criminal Minds. While some of the situations were extremely difficult to read about, the book was fast-paced and kept you captivated. The Marsh King's daughter tells the story of Helena who is the product of her father kidnapping her mother and keeping them in the marsh in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. After twelve years of being raised in the marsh, Helena returns her mother to her hometown. Her father is later imprisoned but years later manages to escape. Helena knows that he is returning for her and her two daughters. She also feels that she is the only one capable of re-capturing him since no one knows the marshland better than the Marsh King's Daughter. The book alternates between present day Helena on the hunt for her father and parts of her story about being raised in the marsh. Helena was not always a likable character, because as a child she adored her narcissistic, sadistic father and often wanted to please him. It was fascinating to see how Helena was raised and how she later could see her father for how he truly was a monster. It was heart-breaking to see her struggle with still loving the charming father and knowing that she was better off without him in her life. I really enjoyed seeing the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale interspersed throughout the book. It's not a fairy tale that I was familiar with, but it truly captivated the story.

I can't remember the last book that grabbed my attention and held on to it quite so thoroughly, until this little gem came along. I was fascinated with the story from page one and honestly didn't want it to end. It's a rare book that can so capture my mind that I want to shut out the whole world and just live in its pages, certainly not because it's cozy there but because everything about it is riveting. Helena was divine! The way she spoke, the way she thought, everything about her was so marked by her early childhood, and yet she became this amazing woman with just a few little quirks. Her father was utterly fascinating in a sick, twisted way. And her mother, oh her mother... Well what would you be after that experience? The Marsh came alive and was its own character to me. The days spent in it were sometimes so idyllic and sometimes horrific, and just one more thing I found utterly fascinating about this book. Combine all of this gloriousness with The Marsh King's Daughter by Hans Christian Anderson, which is woven throughout, and you get a gorgeous book, superbly written, and one I highly recommend to everyone! One of my favorite books of the year.

The author took a classic fairytale The Marsh King by Hans Christian Andersen and put her own twist on it. This is a fast-paced story about the child of a rapist/kidnapper who was raised in the marshland completely cut off from civilization. It is told in rotating points of view from the time she lived on the marsh to her as an adult reintroduced to society. She uses all the skills her father taught her to track him down after he escapes from prison. I was not able to put her story down. This is a must-read!

I can think of thousands words to describe this book but seemingly none of them do it justice. Karen Dionne took a classic fairytale and morphed it into a gripping book that I hated to put down. The book is about Helena, a young woman, who as a child lived in captivity with her mother and her mother's captor. She was born into captivity, not knowing the difference until she escaped one day. This is her story, and the story of being raised by her father, who she simultaneously loved and hated. Overall, the writing on this book was excellent. The story flowed between the past and present, and each chapter had a little bit of both. It showed the parallels between her time in the cabin and her current life. Her father taught her everything and she now had to use it to help find him. I definitely didn't want this story to end, and as the pages wound down, I was hoping for a happy ending. I was not disappointed.

This is a well-written, complex, and compelling read. Helena isn't always likeable, but is instead a realistic portrayal of a person dealing with profound trauma. Worth the read

Such a fast paced read with a unique point of view. It was refreshing to read something different and not repetitive. A must read! *I read this through Penguin Random House's First to Read program*

Absolutely brilliant book. What really struck me was the narrator's point of view. Having been raised on the marsh by her father (who is also her mother's abductor), Helena didn't have the same experiences as those of us in the modern first world country. She grew up without electricity, indoor plumbing, school, friends, etc. And when she's reintroduced into society, she doesn't really see what's so great about it. We often forget that there was a time when we didn't have all the conveniences of technology. We didn't always have smart phones to keep us distracted in supermarket lines, super fancy toys to keep the kids from whining. In growing up in the conditions that she did, she learned to be independent and self-sufficient. The same skills that her father taught her for survival is what she'll use to track him down when he escapes from prison.

The Marsh King is a fast paced book that takes you on a thrilling ride. You won't want to put it down until you have read the whole thing.

Narrator Helena Pelletier's mother was abducted at age 14 and kept captive by the man who became Helena's father. Until Helena was 12 and Helena and her mother escaped, the family lived in a cabin deep in the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, without running water, electricity and a host of other things most of us deem essential. What she got, however, was a firm grounding in hunting, fishing, tracking and other wilderness skills. Twenty years later, Helena has two children of her own and a loving husband who is completely unaware of her strange history, When her father escapes prison after killing two guards, Helena realizes that she is the only one who can find him and remove the threat to her family. Thank you, First Reads, for introducing me to this book. Strong narrator, strong writing, strong story line.

Thanks to First to Read for an ARC of this book - I LOVED it! The story line was engaging, the characters well-defined and I couldn't put it down! The reader is brought along with Helena's emotional and psychological internal (and external) conflict between her deep love and equally deep anger (hatred?) for her father. And her mother. Dionne's gripping story full of emotion, action and suspense is unlike any other story I've read - and as I said - I loved it!

When sadistic father (James) escapes from prison, daughter (Helena) stalks him to protect her own daughters. When Helena's mother was just 14 years old, James kidnapped and held her hostage with Helena being the result of their relationship. How did they finally escape his clutches? How did this secluded, abusive lifestyle affect Helena and her mother? And, now that her father has escaped from prison, what is his plan? Is he trying to kidnap Helena and/or her two young daughters? This story takes place in the marshlands of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and includes excerpts from The Marsh King's Daughter fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. Told from Helena's perspective and alternating between the past and the present, this fast-paced thriller had me hooked from the very first page! In fact, I devoured it in just 1.5 days. This was an emotional, chilling, and touching roller-coaster of a story that delves into the complex emotions of a child who both loves and hates her abusive parent. I would highly recommend it! Solid 4-star rating. Thank you to the author, the publisher, and First to Read for a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review!

Wicked good!! I'm so sad it's over. Karen Dionne is so brilliant with description and details that I had to remind myself, it's only fiction. I'll say it again, it astounds me that writers can create such vivid, psychological terror, where an entire world comes to life in my hands and it's all made up!!!! Excellent storytelling. Using Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale, of the same name, to tell the story adds suspense and has me questioning the moral compass of Helena, daughter of the cold, calculating Marsh King. This is an intelligent suspense from start to finish. There's so much story between the pages of this book. This one's gonna stick with me. *Received a DRC through Penguin's First to Read program. Opinions are my own.

Wow! What a wild ride of a read. One of the few books that surpasses the hype it has received pre-publication. The narration is perfectly paced and the characters are well drawn and fully developed. The writer provides enough "wilderness training" information to add credible weight to the story and the father and daughter characters. The story unfolds in a way that sheds light on earlier events and gives the reader a true sense of resolution without sentimentality. Great book and should be a hit.

I would call The Marsh King's Daughter a must read for anyone who enjoys suspense. While discovering the Helena's background and fighting with her through her present, you find yourself relating to someone from an unbelievable background. Karen Dionne’s scenery is painted before you in a way that puts you in the upper peninsula and makes you excited to go back. Well written and thought provoking, this is a title I will visit again. Anyone who likes a gripping read will be snatched up by this one from the start!

I came across this book as part of the Read First Program. It captivated my attention as it showed both a fairy tale of sorts along with the story of Helena, who grew up in the marsh with just her mom and dad. Helena loved and worshiped her father and though he could do no wrong until she came across another family for the first time in her existence. Helen’s worshiped her father, who today would be considered as a “child abuser” especially as relates to the times when she was placed in a covered well for 3 days…where she almost died. She had a strange relationship with her mother, who saved her from dying by bringing her back to life after being pulled from the well by her father and thrown in the floor of their cabinet in the wildness. Although Helena learned a lot about taking care of herself, a lot of her father’s action really centered around abuse of a child. I’m busy getting ahead of myself in this, but I did not like the father, as he abducted Helena’s mom at the age of 13 and raped her and kept both the mom and Helena isolated for over 12 years. The ending is weir…not sure if I think it was a good or bad ending. However, the book is worth the read, it keeps me going until the end, but overall I would rate it 2.5 stars.

I really enjoyed this book. I decided to pick this book up simply because the story sounded interesting. I had never read anything by the author so I really didn't know what to expect. I was immediately hooked. I actually ended up reading the whole book in a little more than a day because I wanted to read it during every free second I had. If I wasn't reading, I was thinking about this captivating story. I am very happy that I decided to give this book a try. This was a really exciting story told from a very unique point of view. I really liked how the story was told through present day events and memories. Helena was a wonderful character. She has lived a life very different than other people. She spent the first portion of her life with her mother and father in their home in the wilderness. She never saw anyone else and they were her entire life and that was her normal. In reality, her situation was anything but normal because her father had kidnapped her mother and was holding her captive. Helena learns that her father, known as the Marsh King, has escaped from prison. She knows him better than anyone in law enforcement so she sets out to try to catch him herself. Helena's father taught her how to navigate in the wilderness. She knows how to track and hunt because her father made sure that she had those skills. She needs those skills to find him before it is too late. I really enjoyed the way this book was written. I think that having the entire book come from Helena's point of view really worked well. Helena has a very unique point of view with memories from her childhood told through an adult's filter. The were times that we see things as she saw them as a child but other times that her adult views play a role. The book is set in the wilderness of northern Michigan and the descriptions were vivid in detail. The parts set in the present day were nicely balanced with the memories from the past. I would highly recommend this book to others. It is an exciting story told from a very unique point of view. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough because I was eager to learn how everything would end. This is the first book by Karen Dionne that I have read but I look forward to reading more in the future. I received an advanced reader edition of this book from G.P. Putnam's Sons via First to Read.

My Rating: 4 stars This book was nothing like I thought it would be. The summary led me to believe that this would be one of those gripping, edge-of-your-seat thrillers that will leave your heart racing and “chill you to the bone.” Hmm, well….not quite (ok, technically not even close!). To be honest, there really wasn’t a whole lot of suspense, the ending was predictable and expected, and there were barely any twists and turns to warrant placement in the thriller/suspense category -- so from a genre perspective, this book was severely overhyped. However, from the perspective of “general work of contemporary fiction,” this book is exceptionally well-written and definitely deserves a read. If I had to describe this book, I would say that it is a thoughtfully written coming-of-age story about a girl born into captivity to a teenage kidnap victim and her captor, a man known as the Marsh King. The story begins 15 years after Helena and her mother were rescued from the isolated marshlands where they lived for many years. Now married with 2 daughters of her own, Helena has worked hard to bury her past and escape from the shadow of what happened to her mother – she changed her name, her hair color, her appearance and was careful about not drawing attention to herself. Her husband Stephen doesn’t know a thing about her past and so together, they are able to live a happy, ordinary life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. That is, until Helena hears on the news that her father – the notorious Marsh King – has escaped from prison and instinctively, she knows that her family is in danger. As her newly rebuilt life starts to crumble around her, Helena embarks on a “cat and mouse chase” to hunt down her father and put him back in prison before he gets the chance to harm her family. It is here that the narrative starts to switch back and forth in time as Helena recounts her story of how life was like growing up in the marsh. At the same time, Helena struggles to come to terms with her feelings for a father who deliberately raised her to be in his likeness, his “Little Shadow” – the adoration she had for her father during their years in the marsh, when she was completely ignorant of what had happened to her mother, versus the hatred and resentment afterwards when the reality of her father as a cold-blood kidnapper, rapist, and murderer sinks in. Overall, this was an enjoyable read, though not necessarily an easy one due to the premise of the story revolving around a kidnapping and forced captivity. Some parts of the book frustrated me, especially when it came to the actions and attitudes of some of the characters and also the graphic depictions of violence as well as cruelty to animals (though thank goodness there wasn’t a whole lot of the latter in the book – just a few scenes that were largely glossed over). For the most part though, the story was well-told, with Helena’s first person narrative powerful in giving us a unique perspective on a hideous crime and its lasting impact on her life as well as the lives of those she loves. Another unique aspect of this story is the thoroughness with which the author incorporates details that explain why certain characters acted the way they did, answering common “questions” that undoubtedly would arise in our (the readers’) minds as the story evolved – for example, why didn’t Helena’s mother leave when given the chance, why did Helena continue to heed her father’s wishes a few times even after finding out what kind of person he was? Some of these “answers” were subtle and some were directly explained, but either way, in the end, everything made sense and I didn’t come away with a feeling of being unsatisfied with how the story progressed. For those who may be wondering about the significance of the title – yes, the author does incorporate parts of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic The Marsh King’s Daughter into the story, with alternating chapters that start off with excerpts from the fairytale. The author also cleverly weaves parts of the fairytale into Helena’s story itself, with some parts converging and paralleling each other at certain points. Now, I can’t say whether this story is actually a modern re-telling of the fairytale or not, since I’ve never read Andersen’s version of The Marsh King’s Daughter (and in fact didn’t even know there was such a story until I read this book). But I did like the way the fairytale, plus a few other mythical as well as historical elements, were incorporated into the story. This is a recommended read – one that I think most will find engaging and absorbing, though die-hard thriller/suspense fans may find disappointing in its lack of true suspense elements. I would say approach this book without the expectation of “roller-coaster ride” type twists and turns and instead look at it more as a fictionalized account of a potentially true crime story and you should be fine. Received advance reader’s copy from G.P. Putnam’s Sons via Penguin First-to-Read program

I enjoyed this read. The story line goes between the past (how the main character grew up in the marsh and didn't realize her father was a kidnapper) and the present (how she's tracking her father down when he escapes from prison). I liked the psychological aspects of the book, and how the author took care to explain why people act the way they do in stressful situations. The book was also a page-turner ... I was hoping up until the end that Helena would be able to beat her father in their final tracking game. I would read more by this author.

The concept of this book was very cool and interesting, which is why I picked it up, though I've never read the fairytale it's inspired by. Helena was a very complex protagonist and I really enjoyed seeing her grow up completely unaware of what was going on around her. Many of the revelations are written as appropriately devastating for a child in her situation. The fierce loyalty to her father is very realistic as well. My only two complaints are: 1. We don't get to see too much of the epic hunt for her father because of how much time we spend in the past. The final scenes seem a little anticlimactic in comparison to what happened when she was a child, but could have been simply expanded upon. 2. We don't get to see much of Stephen either. I would have liked to get a little more with him dealing with the repercussions of her hiding her past and just had more of their relationship in general. Once again it wouldn't need the parts from the past cut back at all, just expand the book a tad to flesh out how she is now. Overall, great thriller and completely engrossing. It's never a bad thing when my only problem is that I want more content!

Helena Pelletier thought she could put the past behind her, but the news about an escaped killer thrusts her past into the present and threatens to destroy everything. Helena grew up in a remote cabin in Michigan's Upper Peninsula fishing, hunting, and living off the land with her parents. It was the only life she knew and she was happy, until she found out that her father kidnapped her mother when she was a teenager and that Helena is a product of that kidnapping. Now her father has escaped from prison and disappeared back into the marsh. Helena knows that the search party will never find him, but she can, and it's up to her to find her father and send him back to prison. This book was excellent! I did not want to put it down, and read it very quickly. The premise is unique and that's what intrigued me. The story is fast paced and full of suspense. It alternates back and forth between Helena's past and present, with the past introduced by passages from Hans Christian Andersen's The Marsh King, which present an interesting parallel between fantasy and reality. The dynamic between characters is intense and the unique situation is handled amazingly well. This is easily one of the best books I've read.

I read a copy of this book through Penguin Random House's First to Read Program. I was sucked in from the first sentence. The story (not a spoiler) is about the adult child of a kidnaper and his abductee. The past and present come together in a well told story. I think almost all of us have a voyeur curiosity as to what happens to a kidnapped girl who lives with the kidnapper. In this safe fictionalized setting the author gives us a story that plays to this curiosity without the horrible details. the author brings up some interesting and key points as to what happens to a child who has only known life in captivity and relates to that as normal. Also, how does that child relate to her father who is a rapist yet raises her as a "loving" father. The suspense builds through the book merging the past to the current situation where the kidnapper escapes prison. I was hooked from the beginning and enjoyed the book until it ended. The main character was interesting. Learning about her feelings and motivations helped add to the suspense of killer/father vs daughter in a manhunt in a very rural area.

Once I started this book, I couldn't put it down. I stayed up late just so I could finish it! This book tells the story of Helena, who's the daughter of a murderer, kidnapper, and rapist. Her father, Jacob, kidnapped her mother when she was 14 years old and kept her in a cabin in the middle of the marsh for 14 years. Helena was born during this time. Helena grew up learning how to hunt, forage, and track. She is thoroughly her father's daughter in his ability to live outdoors and he loves her father deeply. That is . . . until she realizes his cruelty and finds out what he did to her mother. 13 years later, her father has escaped from prison. Helena knows he'll come after her so she decides to track him. What follows is an intense story of cat and mouse, that is woven through with recollections of her childhood. I think there were some moments that didn't seem quite believable to me and at times Helena's adult character didn't jive with her character as a child. That being said, I truly enjoyed this book!

I really enjoyed this book. I found all the details about Upper Peninsula life and Native American lore fascinating and so authentic that it reads like a true crime story. Karen Dionne manages to make Helena's father who is a sadistic, cruel, evil kidnapper and rapist almost a sympathetic character as seen through the eyes of the little girl who has been carefully psychologically programmed to love him, and only him. The Marsh King's Daughter is compulsively readable and impossible to put down. I plan on reading everything this author publishes.


Although I found the marsh kings daughter an unusual read, I definitely did not think it was a psychological suspense book, as it was billed, and I did not enjoy the fairy tale, Viking and imaginary friends portions! A good read nonetheless.

I was floored by how different this book was from anything I have ever read. Helena has a past in which she spent with her abductor father and abducted mother. She learns about how to track, hunt, and kill. When she finds out that he has escaped from prison, she realizes that she is the only one that can remedy the situation. The problem is that she has never shared her past with her husband and puts her future on the line. I loved the parallels in this book with the Marsh King story. This book had the right blend of suspense, thrill, and psychology to keep this girl happily reading. I will seek more books by this author.

What a terrific story. I couldn't put I down. A young girl is kidnapped and held for 14 years and forced to have the kidnappers child. Forced to live with her kidnapper in a marsh and raise her child there. Very primitive conditions and she is beaten down mentally and physically. The child grows up knowing none of this and loving her father yet also afraid of him. When mother and daughter, now 12 years old, escape the stories continues with a back and forth telling of the story from present day to the past. And what happens in present time with her jailed father is unbelievable. This girl is a survivor and will fight for her family, a husband and 2 children that know nothing of her past. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.

This entire story is a dark one. The meticulous care and detail the author took in creating Helena, a girl who is born to her captive mother and the father who kidnapped her as a 14 year old girl, grows up knowing nothing of life except the 50 year old National Geographic that are in her isolated rustic cabin, and the stories her father tells. It's not hard to have sympathy for this young girl, she literally knows no other life and believes what she's grown up in is completely normal in every way. Her father is a completely sociopathic narcissist who revels in having control over everything around him. It was a tough read sometimes, but the author did a fantastic job creating the world they lived in, detailing what it took day to day for them to survive in the wilderness. The books jumps back and forth seamlessly between her youth and growing up in those circumstances and the modern day chase she engages in to catch her prison escapee father. It's a tale of survival, of disillusionment, thorough character development, and the dichotomous relationship between a young woman and the only father she ever knew, and the way her exposure to the real world has shaped her and changed her beliefs about the man her father really is.

This psychological thriller was certainly a page-turner. The Marsh King's Daughter, while containing excerpts from the same-named "fairy-tale", is an interwoven story of past and present. As an adult, Helena has a loving husband, two little girls, and makes jam that the tourists literally eat up. However, Helena is hiding a secret from all who know and care about her. When her father escapes from prison, Helena must confront her past and solve the mystery of his disappearance before time runs out. This becomes a novel of retribution as Helena races the clock to right the wrongs of her past. Full of twists, turns, and suspense, I really enjoyed as Helena continued to development throughout the story. The geographical and historical references to Michigan's Upper Peninsula helped bring this story alive as well. Would recommend.

I enjoyed this book a lot. Fast paced and grabbed my attention from the beginning. Great characters and plot.

Interesting story, but could have done without the parallels to the fairy tales and Viking stories. Also the two imaginary friends were a little odd.

I very much enjoyed reading this book. The author did an excellent job going back and forth from the past to the present. The story is fascinating and hard to put down. What I didn't like was too much graphic detail regarding hunting. Plus it was pretty obvious how it would end. Also, it seemed like the main character had such a love/hate relationship with her father, and bounced back and forth between these two emotions that it made me a bit dizzy.

The news is an instant and total shock to Helena. Blind, deaf and with blood thundering in her ears, for seconds she is paralyzed. Jacob Holbrook has escaped from prison, killing two correctional officers in the process. The same man who taught her the legends of the Chippewa, who showed her how to fish, trap, track, and hunt has freed himself. Jacob, the man who abducted her mother raping and beating her repeatedly; the same person who punished Helena for any failure, or infraction of his rules. The man Helena idolized, imitated and feared; her father, Jacob Holbrook. The man she put in prison, is on the run in the midst of Michigan‘s vast wilderness, an area he that he knows better than anyone alive. It takes very little time for her to realize that she is the only person who has the insight and tracking skills to find him. Find him and put him back behind bars. “The Marsh King’s Daughter” is an exceptional piece of storytelling. The psychology, the violence, the wilderness and the people all fit together seamlessly. That is a kind of miracle in and of itself, because the author shifts from Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, to Helena’s “Now” and then back to “The Cabin” where she and her mother lived with Jacob. I expect this novel will make quite a splash when it hits the booksellers. The topic is chilling, the characters are unique, and the story is dazzling. I cannot recommend it more strongly.

Great read!!! I really enjoyed this book and read it in a matter of days. The author did a fantastic job with Helena and I really enjoyed the switch between the flashbacks and the present. The writing was great, and I really enjoyed the fast pace! The story was really interesting and the author does a great job of unfolding it. Overall I highly recommend this book for anyone enjoying a good suspense or psychological thriller!

The Marsh King's Daughter is a wilderness "Room," but uniquely its own. This book kept me riveted to its story, terrified and intrigued. Helena, particularly as a child, is a well-drawn character, and an unforgettable one. I really loved this book and won't hesitate to recommend it.

DNF @ 34% I was really intrigued by the premise of this novel. Even reading the back out loud to my fiance, he was intrigued and told me I definitely had to read this next. But, when I read a mystery/thriller/suspense kind of novel, I expect some mystery or thrills or suspense. And that is not what I'm getting from this novel 10 chapters in. Instead, this reads more like a guide on how to hunt in the marsh and how every one else is getting it wrong (which is both boring and at points, terribly disgusting). And it feels like an ode to the girl's brilliant father, the one that kidnapped and raped her mother and the one that beat her and trapped in her a well for long periods of time. A.) I'm not into gory scenes of hunting animals and B.) I get growing up not knowing about your father but to still idolize him years after finding out who he is and what he's done... that just doesn't sit well with me.

Helena was probably one of the most intriguing characters I have ever read. Her story of her past completely fascinated me. And the way it was written was in such detail that it really created vivid imagery in my mind of how she grew up. The way she describes the both the love and the hate for her father and the relationship with her mother gave her such great depth. I do wish however that we got more of the hunting of her father. I felt like that was lacking a bit in the book, which dissapointed me a little. I would still definitely recommend this book for it's haunting story and wonderfully written characters.

Helena has a beautiful family and a happy life but her twisted, secret past is about to threaten everything and everyone she loves. Helena is the product of a kidnapping, her father a disturbed sadist who took her teenage mother into the deep marshes of Michigan's upper peninsula for fourteen years. He has escaped prison, leaving death in his wake, and the only person with the tracking skills and knowledge of the marsh and the man necessary is Helena. The story alternates between Helena's present hunt and her history, a childhood spent in adoration and fear of this monster. The guilelessness of young Helena demonstrates the normalization of horrifying circumstances when there is nothing else to know. The inclusion of Hans Christian Anderson's tale of the "Marsh King" is well done and imbues an aura of lore over Helena's childhood that is slowly chipped away as the novel progresses. An exciting hunt-or-be-hunted tale this is a thriller to pick up this summer. Gory hunting descriptions and graphic violence, due warning. 4 out of 5 stars.

The story draws you in and keeps you reading as the story alternates between Helena's present and past. Mixed feelings about the story, but it does make one think about Helena's life and her coping mechanisms.

First off, I have been to many of the places in this story. When I read the blurb that the story took place in the UP I selected it. The scenery is described very beautifully. This story was full of non stop action and I had a hard time putting it down.

4.5 Stars Growing up, Helena never knew that they were different from other families; she didn’t know the story of how she came to be, didn’t know that her father had abducted her mother for the purpose of taking her as his wife. She loved her father, and didn’t think of him as a bad or dangerous man, although she knew that he was quick to anger toward her mother, at times. She really didn’t know any better, and how could she? She was his ”Bangii-Agawaateyaa,” his Little Shadow. The cabin they lived in out in the wild marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was completely isolated. If it weren’t for the old National Geographic magazines she had seen and read, she would know little about other people, about the world in general. But knowing about it, and living in it are different. She knew that there was a world out there, she just didn’t know how close, or how different it was from how they lived. She just didn’t know. This is so beautifully written, the characters so fully drawn. Helena is a composite of her surroundings, her father, her isolation, her lack of understanding of any other kind of life than the one she’s living – with the exception of those inside her magazines – such a wonderful, complex protagonist. With confident, gorgeous prose transporting you back and forth effortlessly through time and place, from Helena’s childhood to the day she hears the emergency news broadcast. The man she knows as her father has escaped prison, the prison where he has been for fifteen years. Since the day she put him there. She knows the police will never find him. Only she knows how her father thinks, his skills, the things he taught her about tracking, the survival skills he has. She knows his ways, his stories, She also knows if she doesn’t find him, her husband and her two girls lives will never be the same. This suspenseful story has a somewhat brooding tone, atmospheric, troubled, with the sense of disquiet building as the memories come to light. There’s an edge of psychological suspense, while you anxiously wait to see how the story unfolds. A tale certain to leave you breathless, heart pounding and wishing you could read it all over again for the very first time. Recommended Pub Date: 13 Jun 2017 Many thanks for the ARC provided by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

This was a hauntingly beautiful story. We learn a young teen is kidnapped and held captive in the wilderness marsh while boring a daughter to said captive. But the story is that of the daughter. Who doesn't even learn of her predicament until she is about 11. Just learning about her childhood experience is mesmerizing. To grow up in such a way, I cannot wait to read more books by this author! Brilliantly composed


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