“The Taker” by Alma Katsu

The TakerTitle: The Taker
Series: The Taker, #1
Author: Alma Katsu
ISBN: 9781439197059
Pages: 448
Release date: September 6, 2011
Publisher: Gallery (Simon & Schuster)
Genre: Fiction, paranormal
Format: E-book
Source: Personal collection
Rating: 4 out of 5

Luke Findley was expecting a normal night in the E.R.—perhaps a case of frostbite in this Maine winter; a drunken drive into a snowbank; a marital dispute gone wrong. To be a doctor in tiny St. Andrew was to be privy to all manner of secrets.

But Luke could never have predicted what would happen than night, not even in his wildest dreams.

A mysterious, beautiful woman walks into the hospital—along with her police escort. Lanore McIlvrae, Luke learns, is the primary suspect in a strange, gory murder. Yet there’s something about Lanny that draws him.

Her appeal to him is exactly the motivation he needs to get out of his months-long slump. Abandoning all reason, Luke decides to believe her when she says she’s innocent and to help her escape. Along their route to Canada, Lanny tells of her strange past—beginning in the nineteenth century, in the very town Luke thought he knew so well.

Her tale is one of corruption and immortality, involving the handsome but wayward Jonathan and the endlessly manipulating Adair, whose love, Lanny recounts, “is like the love fire has for wood.”

The Taker seamlessly blends history and the supernatural in a thrilling story of unrequited love and heartrending betrayal. Love can lift you up, but it can also bring you to your knees.

Both Lanore and Luke are incredibly complex characters. Why would he choose to drop everything and risk his reputation—his life—for an intensely strange woman he just met? And what is up with Lanny, this beautiful woman with centuries of secrets?

Many times throughout the account of her long life, Lanore seems unbearably selfish, evil even; she stays with Adair even when she recognizes that he is capable of extreme malice. “Jonathan knew enough about himself to believe something evil lurked within, something deserving of punishment,” she tells Luke. “Maybe I knew it, too. We were both failed, in our way, and chosen for a punishment that we deserved.” This is not your typical love story.

Yet Lanny is not evil; there is much kindness and goodness in her. So why does she choose to stay with Adair and even bring Jonathan into his lair? Why doesn’t she try to leave?

It is this very question—and my sometimes frustrated reactions to Lanny’s questionable decisions—that made the book so interesting to me. Lanny’s reticence cannot be attributed to any one thing. She’s suffering from PTSD; she was rejected by her lover and her family; she seems to suffer Stockholm syndrome; she is the victim of domestic abuse. Her choices, such as they are, are incredibly narrow, and circumscribed further still by the social mores of her time. Her complexity renders her realistic and compelling.

And you keep reading, because there must be some kind of redemption for her. There must be hope, even though she gave up hope so long ago.

I enjoyed this book, and can’t wait to start the second book in the trilogy! I don’t read a lot of paranormal fiction, but The Taker has convinced me to explore the genre.

Quotes of Note:

“Love can be a cheap emotion, lightly given, though it didn’t seem so to me at the time. Looking back, I know we were only filling in the holes in our souls, the way the tide rushes sand to fill in the crevices of a rocky shore. We—or maybe it was just I—bandaged our needs with what we declared was love. But, eventually, the tide draws out what it has swept in.”

“[L]ove, after all, is faith, and all faith is meant to be tested.”

“It’s a conceit, or a failing, of the young to think you can excise your past and it will never come looking for you.”

Don’t just take my word for it! Buy The Taker from an independent bookstore or Amazon (a Kindle version is also available). Each sale from these links helps support Melody & Words.

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