The Taker – Alma Katsu

Luke begins what is probably going to be an ordinary monotonous night shift at his local hospital. That is until Lanore Mcilvrae walks into his life accompanied by the local sheriff as she told him she had stabbed a man in the woods. What then begins is a race against time, both past and present as Lanore tells her story of how she came to have stabbed a man in the woods.

Lanore has an immortal power, one that will take us back through her first person narrative to the 1800s and the Puritan settlements of Maine in America to the immorality goings on in Boston. Here Lanore learns her life and she is also taken back further to the mid fourteenth century where the story really began for her and we learn the truth.

It is a dark romantic mystery in many ways, however I would say this is for the not faint hearted and those who want fluffy romance this goes beyond that, this book goes deep into the soul of the characters and their love. Eternity lasts forever and love as Lanore discovers does not. For this is really a story about Lanore, Luke is merely for me the vehicle in which we learn about her and her past.

It is well written, I cannot criticise the book for that and the historical descriptions were very informative and interesting. I discover I have rather an interest in these settlements of America and was fascinated about how villages and settlements relied on one person, this one person who could make or break their community and its finances and take its soul. It was these luckily rather long passages and chapters in the book that kept me turning the page. What I did not like was the fantasy paranormal, almost sadist elements of the book which brought it down to a much more base banal line and I felt this was in the book for the sake of titillation and to fill pages.  I am not a fan of fantasy novels and perhaps because of this I had already made my mind up about the book before actually having read it.

If this is to be part of a trilogy I am unsure as to where the next part of the story lies, for me it ended with no loose ends. For that reason whilst I commend such a debut novel, there are many who will adore it and seek out the sequels with delight. For me this was enough.

I have found at points this book rather a slog, but I felt I had gone past the point of giving up and had to make it to the end. In some ways I am glad I did, as it has made me reflect on the actual title of the book – The Taker. Who or what is or was the taker? For me all the characters were takers; taking love, life, sexual liberties, money, property to name a few. For a lot of the book I could not see what was being given back it was all take take take. At times in the book one characters was stronger at taking things, but no one was as strong as the main character Lanore or Lanny to her friends – she took everything for her own selfish needs and then with nothing someone took something from her and so this perpetual cycle began throughout the book. I wonder when the title of the book came to the author? Before any of the storyline or characters had been developed and formed or afterwards? 

Thank you to Newbooks magazine via their website for letting me read this book and reviewing it. I know I would have walked past it without a second glance in a bookshop.