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

Start Reading….

Read Excerpt Now


Sign me up to receive news about Karen Dionne.

Place our blog button on your blog to let people know you are a member of this great program!

“Brilliant....About as good as a thriller can be.”—The New York Times Book Review

“[A] nail-biter perfect for Room fans.”—Cosmopolitan

“Sensationally good psychological suspense.”—Lee Child
Praised by Karin Slaughter and Megan Abbott, The Marsh King’s Daughter is the mesmerizing tale 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.
Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a business that fills her days. But she also 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. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and despite her father’s sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too...until she learned precisely how savage 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 marsh. The police begin 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.

A Michigan Notable Book!

Advance Galley Reviews

This book was really good. It was actually better than I expected and I was thrilled that I enjoyed it so much. It really keeps you glued to the page and I totally recommend it for anyone looking for suspenseful reads!

"The Marsh King's Daughter" is inspired by the fairy tale of the same name by H.C. Andersen. Despite my shared heritage with Andersen (I'm Danish and I grew up not far from his house in Odense), I have never read that fairy tale which is frequently quoted throughout the book. Helena Pelletier's mother was abducted and taken into the marshes of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan by her abductor when she was only 16 years old. Helena was born into this captivity when never realized what was going until she was almost a teenager. She and her mother escaped and after an extensive manhunt, her father was captured and put in prison for life. And so it went. But then her father escaped from prison, killing two prison guards in the process, forcing Helena to take actions she never expected to take. The story jumps back to her time growing up in the U.P. and present time, along with snippets of the Andersen fairy tale. The outcome is well-told, exciting story that kept me on the edge of my seat unable to put the book down.

A good book with excellent plot line and beautiful characters.

Great, thrilling read that kept me interested until the end. Helena was a complex character that at times made you feel for her regarding her father.

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale by the same name. The book is written in the first person past tense point of view of Helena Pelletier nee Holbrook. The writing is descriptive, deliciously so, and you imagine yourself on the marsh with the dangerous Jacob Holbrook lurking around. I enjoyed Helena’s descriptions of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, and the life there, the prevailing weather conditions and the starkness of the environment in which man realises just how puny he is in the face of nature’s power. I also liked the back and forth linkages between the past and the present. Returning to civilisation, Helena comments on her experience, her understanding of civilisation versus the wilderness, and the media frenzy that her return evokes. Her father, a larger-than-life figure who she idolises, dominates her recollections. But these recollections are tinged with hindsight. Overall, there is an air of adventure about life in the marsh that we can’t help but find appealing. Particularly from the perspective of a child who didn’t truly know the man she idolised as her father. The story is written in the first person point of view of Helena. The main story is interspersed with excerpts from the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale by the same name, which precede the chapters. The child in the tale is a beautiful but wild and wicked child by day, and an ugly but sweet and mournful frog at night. Similarly, Helena too is conflicted, resenting her father and loving him too. She is the one who helped put her father behind bars, yet she idolises him, and continues to do so, despite knowing the extent of his cruelty. Strangely, she resents her mother for the situation, for not doing enough to protect her, when her mother’s plight was far worse than hers. As a child, she has no way of knowing that her father is abusive, but surely that understanding must have come later, some measure of it, after she and her mother were rescued and she began to make a new life for herself. At one level, I felt sorry for Helena. Her recollections make it hard for us to figure out whether we should pity her or admire her. Read the full & detailed review at

I found this book tantalizing and thriller. I look forward to reading more from Karen Dionne in the future.

My ARC of Marsh King's Daughter unfortunately expired before getting to read it. Hopefully I can pick up a copy and thusly put my review here.

I was a little disappointed. I thought there would be a little more of the thriller aspect, but the book dragged on a little for me. This is more of a personal preference, but I like books that are a bit more fast paced.

The Marsh King’s Daughter was an interesting but disappointing read for me. While I liked the fairy tale aspects of this book, I could have done without the endless descriptions of living off the land and Helena’s father’s cruelty. I recently saw a blurb comparing this to Room, and had I seen that earlier I doubt I would have read the book. I prefer thrillers that move along at a quick pace; instead, this one spends so much time on the very depressing backstory. I was also frustrated that she never seemed to understand how horrible her father had been. I am glad I read The Marsh King’s Daughter since there has been a fair amount of talk about it, but I was happy when it was over.

Wow this suspense thriller was hard to put down. The relationship between a father and a daughter is special, but when you grow up n a Marsh isolated from modern everything only to find out as a pre teen that it is because your father is a psychotic kidnapper then your take on normal father daughter issues is more than a bit skewed. This thriller is portrayed in such a way and perspective that it not only enhances the dark psychological aspects but shows the human side of confusion caused by different abuse to a child. The story is told from the perspective of Helena a woman at the time of the story with a good life and husband and a family history far from normal. She tells her story about how her mom was kidnapped as a teen by her dad and held prisoner in a Marsh, raped, abused and made to raise Helena. The story explores the aspects of being raised in the wilderness as a prisoner vs modern society and not having social skills. When Helena finally escapes with her mom her transition into modern society is not easy. Once he father is captured and put in jail it does not make it better for her. It is hard for her because she respected he father, loved him, even saw value in what he had taught her although she knows what he did was wrong. She help put him in prison but when he escapes threatening her new life and family it becomes a who is hunting who thriller and only Helena can track him down and put him away. This book was intense, exploring what it is and means not knowing your life is so wrong until it comes crashing down. It explores abuse, and the value of different kinds of education. It explores themes like making the best of what you are given and rising above your past. It also explores the emotions of a child in an abusive situation not knowing what is happening to her is not normal. I rather enjoyed the emphasis it put on learning survival skills and about nature and how that can be as useful if not more so than a modern education and how we undervalue such ideas, but the dark twist of how it all came about made this thriller a quick and insightful read. The parallel to the dark fable The Marsh Kings Daughter made the tragic story and events even more creepy. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys thrillers but be warned it could be a trigger for some due to the subject matter. Violence, kidnapping, rape, murder and trauma are all part of this tragic tale.

This is a GREAT book! The story is compelling and told in a way that captures your attention from start to finish. Would be a great Book Club book also, in that there is so much to discuss.

I really enjoyed this book. It was very suspense and kept you turning the pages. The writing was very well done and I don't normal pay attention to those thins. I thought Helena was very detail and had depth.

So excited to receive my ARC from first to read. I found this story a little hard to get into at first and admit that I put it down a couple of times. But, once I really invested the time I actually got really involved with the character and story. I admit I'm never good at giving great reviews, especially for books where you don't want to give anything away from the story or ending. Try this book!

I wanted to read this book because I love thrillers, but I didn't think the book got really exciting until close to the end. I had a hard time getting through this story because it just wasn't compelling enough for me. I guess I just wanted more action. It was difficult to read about the abuse that Helena and her mother endured. I absolutely despised the father. It was also hard to read the descriptive text about hunting. Those parts were way too graphic for me. I liked how the story got interesting at the end, but unfortunately this book was not for me.

Wilderness man kidnaps a young teenager who births a daughter. Daddy Dearest trains the girl in survival techniques. He is abusive in all ways. Fast forward twenty years and this daughter has a family of her own. Daddy has been in prison but escapes by killing his guards. Problem: She has not told her family about him and now she knows he is coming for them. She sets out alone to track him, which is just what he wants. The end is a shocker. My thanks to the author and the Penguin First to Read program for a complimentary copy.

I don't always have the best luck with thrillers, especially the past year or so, but it seems my luck might be changing with "The Marsh King's Daughter." Helena, her husband and their two daughters live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where they live a rather simple life. Early on the reader learns something dramatic happened in Helena's life which has had a dramatic effect on everything she has done since. While picking her daughter's up from school one day, she learns a dangerous man who once kidnapped a young teen and held her captive for years has escaped from prison two hours away. That man just happens to be Helena's father and it might just be up to her to track him down and end her ongoing nightmare once and for all. This books has so much tension and action throughout that at times, it was very hard to put down. I immediately felt a connection with Helena and wanted to learn more about her twisted childhood. It was interesting to see the dynamics of her both loving her father, yet learning what kind of man he really is inside. The book flashes back from past to present as the reader witnesses Helena's hunt for The Marsh King and her childhood. She spent so much of her childhood in captivity and didn't really know it at the time. Overall, I'm thrilled with Dionne's novel. She weaves her tales with snippets from Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale of the same name which gives a whimsical element to an extremely dark and twisted story. I am tempted to give "The Marsh King's Daughter" 5/5 stars, but there happens to be a small part which features two dogs both named Rambo which sort of upset me as I don't for animal cruelty in my books. However, it really is only a small element and I don't feel it was thrown in for shock value so I can cut the author a small break. If you love thrillers, this is a wonderful book to pick up. I haven't seen it compared to "Gone Girl" which seems the norm nowadays, and I'm glad or else perhaps I might not have even given this book a second glance. I predict this will be one the smash books this summer and next year, people just might be comparing books to "The Marsh King's Daughter."

I was riveted by this book, completely glued to the pages! THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER was more than just gripping psychological suspense; it was also a compelling blend of literary fiction and unique coming of age story. This book tells the unusual life story of Helena Pelletier. She’s a wife, mother, and small business owner, but at one time her life was very strange, and growing up she didn’t realize it. The father whom she adored was actually a monster, a cruel psychopath who kidnapped her mother when she was a teenager. The three of them lived in an isolated cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, completely cutoff from the rest of the world, until Helena was twelve years old. Now, after spending many years in prison, her father has escaped, and the only person cunning and skilled enough to track such as man is Helena herself. Helena’s story alternates between the present as she hunts for her father, and the past when they lived alone in the marshlands. Moving between the two time periods bumped up the suspense. I was equally fascinated by both! As the reader, you already know that Helena will be separated from her father, but how? What was their life like before she knew the truth? What was it like for Helena to join the “real world,” and eventually be compelled to hunt him after his escape? My need for these answers made this a read-in-one-sitting situation! THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER is a beautifully written book and a nail-biter at the same time. I loved it. Helena, her mother, and their haunting story will stick with me for a long time. Highly recommended. 5 stars!

A young, fourteen-year-old girl is kidnapped and held against her will in the harsh, desolate marshlands of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The abductor, Jacob, impregnates her and Helena is born. Helena grows up in the marshlands with little knowledge of social relationships and of the world beyond the marsh. Jacob, Is at times a doting father, but he is often a brutal abuser to both Helena and her mother. Regardless, Helena is close to her father and learns well the skills needed to survive. Finally, Helena recognizes the truth about her father, and she and her mother escape. Jacob is incarcerated, but upon his escape Helena decides that she must use the skills he taught her to track him down and protect her family. The story alternates between the present, where Helena has married and made a family, and her life in the marsh where the reader learns of her many revelations leading to the recognition of her father's cruelty. The Hans Chistian Andersen fairy tale, "The Marsh King's Daughter", is woven in at the beginning of chapters paralleling the terror Helena endured in the marsh and the eventual finding of her morals. I usually enjoy psychological thrillers but, while good, this book just somehow didn't do it for me. (This book was received as an arc from Penguin in return for my honest review.)

I was given an advance copy of this book. Helena had a rather extraordinary childhood, living out in the middle of nowhere. Helena's mother was abducted as a teenager and became pregnant by her abductor. Helena and her mother eventually escape and her father goes to prison. Helena has trouble adjusting to her "new normal" in the outside world. She eventually leaves her old life behind, changing her name and keeping her past a secret. She doesn't even reveal her childhood to her husband and children. The past catches up with her when her father escapes from prison. She realizes she is the only one who can catch her father. The book started off well, but the ending was pretty predictable. There were some surprises throughout the story. The book jumped around way too much from present to past. I didn't love the book, but I didn't hate it.

I received an advance copy of this book from Penguin's First to Read Program. It was a fast-paced psychological thriller, and kept me captivated until the very last page. The story follows Helena, a mother and wife who has never revealed her past life to those closest to her: she was born in a cabin, the child of a teenage mother and her abductor. She had to "come clean" about her previous life when her father, the criminal who had years before abducted her mother and kept her hidden for years, escaped from prison. In her years in captivity, her father taught her all of his "tricks", so she knew she was the only one who could find him. This book, which is intertwined with the parallel story of The Marsh King by Hans Christian Anderson, is beautifully written and completely fascinating.

The Marsh King’s Daughter was a wonderfully written book with a storyline that kept me guessing right until the very end. Helena Pelletier was born two years after her mother was abducted and taken to the marshlands. Helena grew up believing everything about their life was normal and loved her life in the marsh. As a child she did everything with her father and completely adored him. Eventually she learns the truth which sets off a chain of events that lead to Helena and her mother leaving the marsh while her father goes to prison. Over twenty years later, the stable life Helena has built comes crashing down when her father escapes prison and flees into the marsh. Helena knows her family is in danger and sets out to hunt her father down and return him to prison. The story alternates chapters between Helena’s childhood in the marsh and the present day. Life in the marsh was brutal, but Helena never knew another world existed outside of the marsh. As a child, Helena worshipped her father and set out to be just like him. By his side, she learned tracking, hunting, fishing and generally how to thrive in the marsh. A number of the hunting scenes go into great detail, so be prepared for that. As the book went on, I was very curious what happened that caused Helena and her mother to leave the marsh. This information isn’t revealed until nearly the end of the book, but it was certainly interesting. In the present day, Helena is married and has two young daughters. No one in her new life knows about her past in the marsh or about her family. When her father escapes from prison, she has to come clean to her family and decide what she’ll do to keep them safe. It was fascinating watching Helena recall the skills she learned in the marsh to hunt her father in the present day. The present day storyline doesn’t take place over a long period of time; in fact I think it may have only been over the course of 2 or 3 days. That quickness definitely helped with the pacing of the story as some of the flashback chapters did move a bit slower. This review is very vague, but I don’t want to give away any details that might spoil what happened. I will say The Marsh King’s Daughter was a very suspenseful story and completely captured my attention and kept it throughout the book. I read the book in one sitting because I simply couldn’t put it down and had to know how everything would end. I definitely recommend the book to anyone looking for a quick and enjoyable suspense read. I received an advanced copy from the publisher via the First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

The Marsh King's Daughter was not the book I expected. Honestly, it was intriguing, powerful and drew me into story. It is told from the point of view of Helena, who reveals throughout the book the circumstances of her birth and life, and what has lead her to this point. The story is told in a series of flashbacks, but there is never any confusion about what is going on in the time frame. I was right there with Helena the whole time, and my pulse was still pounding after I finished the book. I highly recommend for anyone who likes a thriller. I received a free ARC from Penguin's First to Read Program in exchange for my honest review.

The Marsh King’s Daughter is actually an old fantasy story by Hans Christian Anderson and the author shares this old tale through several chapters in between the main story. Anderson’s story is about the child born from a Marsh King and an Egyptian princess, a girl who has two forms, frog by night and a beautiful girl by day. I won’t give away the rest though but you know how these stories go… you’ll see the similarities in the end and it’s so amazing that she used this fairy tale in her own story. The Marsh King’s Daughter tells the story not by the girl abducted but, quite uniquely, through the voice of their offspring, a girl – now woman – called Helena who has a husband and two children herself in the present day. This was an utterly fascinating story told in alternating timelines through Helena’s life in the present day, where she deals with her father’s escape from prison, and her first twelve years living with her mother and father in a cabin on a ridge in the wilderness. They lived in a self-proficient way and they were very resourceful which was displayed in many many ways. There was no electricity and maybe this was the thing she missed most of all when looking back. She still remembers the highlight of her fifth birthday when her mother made her a real birthday cake, made using a duck egg and bear grease. She got a doll from her mother as a present too which she shackled and used for target practice later, and from her father she received her first knife. Her father learned her to hunt, snare and trap, he learned her to swim and he gave her first tattoos. When she talks about her father I felt she genuinely loved him and looked up to him, he was her hero and she was a real daddy’s girl, and I wondered how she could be responsible then for him being in prison. In the present day though she knows the police won’t be able to catch him and she sets out to find him and lock him up again. She once was his ‘Little Shadow’ but she’s determined to outwit him at his own game again, she has learned from the best after all. Sparsely scattered through her accounts at first but more and more so later on, situations and reactions from her father in the past were mentioned that made me frown upon and where I once even felt some kind of sympathy and perhaps even thought their life as a family wasn’t all that bad, it became crystal clear that I couldn’t be more wrong. The author made me take an enormous u-turn in my understanding of this fellow. It was a struggle though for both of us to face the reality and for her in the end, to see that he wasn’t all that she thought he was. It was a perfect love-hate relationship and the suspense in this novel is mostly brought on by the questioning if she has what it takes to stop her father. Does she really take after her father in the end? The world building in The Marsh King’s Daughter was incredibly detailed and atmospheric, it must have taken lots of research and it was amazing to be immersed in this rugged landscape and very basic life. Her love for her three-legged dog pulled on my heart-strings plenty of times. The only scene I didn’t read entirely was the one where she and her father go deer hunting. I know it was a scene that was in line with the story but it was too difficult for me to read about this. I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed the rest of the story though. In the beginning there’s a lot to learn about her past but towards the end, when we finally learn why and how they left the ridge, it was followed by such a high rise in tension and it didn’t let up anymore. This was an outstanding read, one I can highly recommend!

As a child, Helena was unaware of the circumstances surrounding her upbringing. Her mother was kidnapped as a teen by Jacob Holbrook, and held captive in a cabin in the marsh. Helena spends the first 12 years of her life living on the marsh with her mother and father, and never interacting with other humans. For her, life is normal. Until an event occurs when she is 12 that allows Helena and her mom to escape. As an adult, Helena has changed her name and made a new life for herself. She is married with 2 children and a husband who knows nothing of her past. That is until her father, the so-called "Marsh King" escapes from prison. The book alternates between Helena's present and her past. In the present, she is tracking her father, trying to find him before he can hurt her or her family. In the past, we learn the story of her childhood, with a father who is abusive and controlling, but also teaches her how to survive in the wilderness. I really enjoyed the parts about her childhood. They were fascinating. It felt like a whole different book. The storyline set in the present was interesting, but read more like a thriller. I feel like the abuse of her childhood was downplayed a little. As a child, Helena loves her father and idolizes him. It is only as she grows older that she begins to see his flaws. Helena's mother is very under-formed. It would have been nice to see more of her story, but since this is Helena's story, we see the mother through her eyes. I recommend this books to fans of thrillers, and look forward to reading more from this author. I received a free ARC from Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for my honest review.

A Penguin First to Read ARC e-book in exchange for an honest review. It was a good life. Until it wasn’t. Helena is the daughter of a notorious child abductor who is dubbed The Marsh King. Two years into her mother’s captivity Helena is born, her mother wasn’t even seventeen. The Marsh King taught his daughter everything he knew about hunting and tracking. Now Helena needs to use those skills to hunt him down. I liked the struggle that Helena relays on her emotions around her father. Yes, to us he was a horrible monster and there were no buts on what we should feel, hate and disgust. On Helena’s part though, her life was very much normal. For 12 years she did not know any better. Her mother never told her and her father was her idol in the world that only consisted of the three of them and a couple National Geographic’s. It does not matter what Helena learned later, she will always love her father that she remembers as kind, the one that taught her all her life skills. She knows what he did was horrible, the kidnapping and abuse to herself and her mother, and she does hate those things about him but that doesn’t mean she cannot be conflicted at times. It was a quick read but with difficult subject matter (rape, domestic abuse, child abuse).

I was pleasantly surprised by The Marsh King's Daughter. Karen Dionne did an excellent job of crafting believable characters and complex relationships that kept me engrossed throughout. The strong sense of authenticity that stemmed from all the little details used to describe life in the marsh and the U.P. also contributed to the book's appeal. Although it's a fairly short read (under 300 pages), the story arc and natural conclusion combined for a satisfying experience. I know I'll remember Helena and her family for years to come, and I can't think of higher praise for a book than that.

I really enjoyed the pacing of this book. The author did a great job of moving from the past to the present, giving you an understanding of her childhood and how it shaped her as an adult. Looking forward to more by this author.

Helena grew up as the daughter of a kidnapper and his captive. She learned how to conquer the forest and survive a life in the wilderness. After being rescued and her father imprisoned, Helena struggled with the social norms of civilization. Eventually she gets married and has two children. But then her father escapes prison and Helena realizes that she is the only one who will be able to track him down. On the surface, that is the story. But really, Ms. Dionne writes about Helena's internal struggle to accepting the father she loved and looked up also being the mentally ill criminal that kidnapped and raped her mom, held them captive, and killed people. This is the meat of the story and brought a refreshing touch to what has been a well-used plot.

This is a wonderfully written, captive book about an abduction, a young life, tragedy and redemption. It held me in its grip until the very end. I look forward to more books by this author

I can’t imagine how traumatizing an abduction and prolonged captivity would be for a young woman, and the mental strength required to live through such an ordeal; to add a child into the mix would, I'm sure, complicate the situation exponentially. This story is told from the point of view of one of these children. Helena, whose mother was abducted when she was fourteen and gave birth to her two years into her captivity. They were held in the marshland of Upper Peninsula Michigan until Helena was about twelve years old. We meet Helena when she is an adult. She runs her own small business and is happily married with two young daughters of her own. The story begins when she is out one day delivering her homemade jams and she hears on the radio that her father has escaped from prison. One of the things that I loved about this novel was that Helena was able to express her memories and experiences with her father and of her captivity without sounding angry or hateful, or even seeming victimized. She is a surprisingly balanced woman considering what she went through. She said that loved her life in the marsh and she loved her father. She didn't know anything different; she says, “It was a good life, until it wasn't.” The book has three intertwining story lines. Helena’s life in the present and what she is doing to deal with her father’s escape; Helena’s narrative of what it was like during her captivity, and beginning each chapter is a piece of the fairytale “The Marsh King’s Daughter” written by Hans Christian Anderson. The three parts are told seamlessly. All three story lines climax together, and are wrapped up nicely. I don’t think there was any point while I was reading that during the memory narrative I was thinking, “enough already, get back to the story…” like I was with another thriller I just read -Into The Water-. The story takes us through Helena’s childhood and details how Helena and her family lived in the marsh, things they ate, how they hunted, what the seasons were like, and her respective relationships with her parents. There are a few incidences as she gets older which she begins to realize that their life isn’t normal. Helena also describes how difficult it was for her and her mother to transition back into society once they had escaped. She talks about the range of feelings she experienced after captivity and how she tried to adjust. It was interesting to hear the things that she had to learn about that were modern; the words and phrases people use that she never heard before, and simple rituals, like shaking hands in greeting, that she didn't know existed; things most people don’t even give a second thought to in life. There is a time in every person’s life when they realize that their parents are actually human beings that have lived lives beyond that of being a mother or father. This incredible story illustrates what it might be like if you realized one of your parents was a monster.

Right from the beginning, this book holds your attention and doesn't let up until the end. I enjoyed how Helena's story paralleled the 'Marsh King's Daughter' tale by Hans Christian Anderson. Great read.

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


Copy the following link