Author: Karen Dionne

Publisher: GP Putnam and Sons

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1300-5

Karen Dionne, author of The Marsh King’s Daughter, is a member of, and prior board director for, the International Thriller Writers. (2017 inside back cover) Dionne founded Backspace, an online writer’s forum and she is an organizer for the Salt Cay Writers Retreat. She and her family live in Northern Michigan.

The main characters in this thriller are Helena, her father, and mother. Helena grows up in the upper peninsula of Michigan in a marshland. This remote wooded environment leaves her to only play with her imaginary friends or learn tracking and hunting skills from her Native American father. She has never met another person until one day her father takes her to the damn and she sees another family. She is beyond thrilled and this sets the stage for her wanting more than this marsh.

Helena’s father kidnapped her mother when she was a teenager and he has kept her in confinement at this marshy remote residence ever since. Originally there was much to do about this disappearance, but as the years ticked off less and less was done because the trail was stone cold. Her father is a domineering hard core man who has no qualms about beating or closing her in a cold dark well if she does anything that he is displeased about. He is even worse to the mother. Helena does not know life any differently, but has learned, for the most part, how to manage these outbursts and keep the peace with her unpredictable father.

One cold winter day a single man on his snowmobile happens to their door. Helena cannot figure why her mother is so happy to see this man and worries what her father might do if he catches this man at their home. The man has heard the stories about the kidnapped woman and soon learns that this is the woman and her daughter. He tries to get them to come away with him, but not before Helena’s father returns to torture and nearly kill him and her mother so badly beaten and broken that Helena fear she may die. What then?

Helena is sometimes tasked with bringing this hostage man some tea and occasionally a tidbit of leftover food. When she is too kind her father punishes her. She feels bad for this man and wonders why her father is so cruel. Slowly she begins to trust and talk to this man. He tells her that she needs to take her mother and get away on the snowmobile and teaches her where the key is and basic driving of it on the snow. She doubts this is possible, but speaks to her mother who agrees. They make a plan to leave the next time her father is out hunting. Will they get away? What happens to the captive? And her father is they do get away?

I really enjoyed this book even though parts made me very mad. I find it hard to read about people who abuse others, but it is probably far more commonplace than I care to learn. Read it, enjoy it, learn from it. I did.