Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: The Taker by Alma Katsu

About the Book:

Dr. Luke Findley is on the midnight shift in the emergency room when the police bring in a young woman. Few strangers come to this remote town in northernmost Maine in the winter, and this stranger is accused of a bizarre crime: killing a man and leaving his body in the Great North Woods. The young woman, Lanny, tells the doctor that she and the man in the woods lived in this town at its founding two hundred years ago, until fate sentenced them to an eternity of unhappiness until they atone for their sins.

The man in the woods is Jonathan, son of the town's founder, and the love of Lanny's life. After Lanny commits a terrible sin in the hope of claiming Jonathan for her own, she's banished from town and sent to Boston to serve her penance. In Boston, she falls in with a beguiling yet frightening man, Adair, who has otherworldly powers, including the ability to confer immortality. His world is one of unknown sensual pleasures and seemingly limitless power, but at what price?

Adair wants to add Jonathan to the collection of treacherous courtiers who do his bidding (but for unknown ends) and sends Lanny back to Maine to collect him. It seems like the answer to Lanny's deepest desire—to be with Jonathan forever—but once Jonathan has joined Adair's pack of immortals, she sees that Adair is not what he seems and his intentions toward Jonathan are far worse than she imagined. And now it is up to her to save her beloved—and herself—from a terrible fate designed to last for all eternity.

The Taker is a story of the power of love to corrupt, to drive us to do terrible things in its name, and the courage it takes to sacrifice in the name of love and ultimately be worthy of absolution.

My thoughts and review:

I'm not really sure how to describe this book (outstanding, breathtaking, fresh, original), but I do think that the formal cover description doesn't do the story justice at all. My initial thought upon receiving the book was that the cover was beautiful with a somewhat mysterious feel, maybe because of the blurred background, and I could only hope that the story being told would match. The author was completely new to me which meant a clean slate, no preconceived ideas about writing style or expectations about living up to a previous work. I wasn't aware how much I needed that until it was delivered to my door. The Taker is responsible for ending my paranormal reading slump because right from the start I was drawn into Lanny's story, much like Dr. Findley.

This is very much a story about Lanny and her incredible journey from a poor Puritan village into decadent Boston society, and from there into modern day Maine and the hospital of Dr. Luke Findley. Over the course of this novel she travels full circle, ending one chapter of her life exactly where she began. I immensely enjoyed when Lanny would relive her past, and found the rich historical details to make a solid backbone for what ends up being an otherworldly obsession mistaken for a deep and abiding love. Sadly, it seems that death is the only thing that can force Lanny to grow, to change, to accept. In fact, I'm never really sure that I like Lanny all that much in the beginning because she is selfish and spoiled, making all her decisions based on her immature ideals about love. You almost can't blame her for falling in love with Jonathan, after all, he is the epitome of outward male beauty, a fine specimen indeed, despite the fact that he has no real regard for females at all. He sleeps with everyone, young or old, married or promised, and all the men in town hate him for it. Lanny is his only real friend and even she can't see what he truly is. She wants to have him for herself and makes more than one poor decision to get him.

The story really came alive for me when we meet Adair, the rich and mysterious benefactor that introduces Lanny to a life of sensual release and forbidden pleasure, along with horrors beyond her comprehension. Adair's story is fascinating and completely unique to anything that I have read in recent years. He is a brilliant villain, the type that keeps you guessing as to his real intentions, and I really wanted him to find redemption. He keeps a group of "friends" with him that seem loyal more out of fear than love, and although they befriend Lanny they remain completely in Adair's command. You will have to read for yourself to see how events unfold, and I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. Fans of historicals will enjoy this dark tale of love, as well as fans of romantic paranormal. The Taker is a must read for 2011 and will stay in my Top 20 list for the year.

For more information about The Taker, including excerpts and a book trailer, please visit Alma's website or her blog.

*Reviewed by Anna Dougherty
*This book was sent for review by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.


Rain Maiden said...

Great review. I have been looking at this book and you sold me on it.

Anna (Bite Club) said...

Glad I could help:) It really is a stunning book, the kind that stays on your mind even after you've finished reading. I hope she writes more of these lovely historical type paranormals. You should check out her website.