The Marsh King's Daughter

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Author: Karen Dionne
Publisher: Penguin
Category: Fiction

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THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER   “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.

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About The Author

Karen Dionneis the cofounder of the online writers community Backspace, the organizer of the Salt Cay Writers Retreat, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors. She has been honored by the Michigan Humanities Council as a Humanities Scholar, and lives with her husband in Detroit's northern suburbs.


  • Amanda Borcovan
    I loved every second of this book. Growing up in far northern Wisconsin, I have spent most of my free time wandering around the UP. I have been to all these places and it’s wonderful to have a connection like that with a book. The author blends the past and present into a story that I couldn’t put down.
  • Kristina Anderson
    The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne is set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helene Pelletier had an unconventional childhood growing up in an isolated area where her only human contact was her mother and father. That all changed when she was twelve years old. Helene discovered that her mother had been kidnapped by Jacob, her father, when she was only fourteen years old. Thanks to a stranger who got lost, Helen and her mom were able to escape. Helene’s father, Jacob Holbrook was captured and has been serving time in the local maximum-security prison. Helene counts herself very lucky that she now has a wonderful husband and two little girls. But then Helene hears that Jacob has escaped while being transported. She is afraid for her little girls. Stephen, her husband, is unaware of Helene’s past, but is quickly brought up to speed when the police arrive on their doorstep. Helene knows that the police will never be able to find her father. He can easily disappear into the marshland and never be found. Jacob taught Helene all the necessary skills to survive and how to track. If anyone can locate Jacob, it will be Helene. She knows this is the only way to ensure her families safety. On the trail of her father, Helene reminisces about early years and what happened when she returned to civilization with her mother. Helene knows she is on her father’s trail when she finds objects he left for her. But is Helene hunting Jacob or is Jacob drawing her in? The Marsh King’s Daughter has an interesting premise, but the final product did not live up to the summary on the book. I read The Marsh King’s Daughter, but I did not get into the story. It never captured my attention. I particularly disliked Helene. Her admiration for her father was disconcerting, and Helene’s dislike of her mother was upsetting (the poor woman had been kidnapped, raped, belittled, tortured). I could not understand Helene living on her paternal grandparent’s property (she inherited it). Personally, I would have sold the land to the highest bidder and moved to a different state (far, far away). Jacob raised Helene to be like him and think like him (she hunts, fishes, tracks). It makes me really question if this woman should be allowed around children (and glad that she is a fictional character). I give The Marsh King’s Daughter 2 out of 5 stars. I found the pace of the story to be glacial and key details are repeated throughout the whole novel (like how Helene is the only person who can find Jacob). There is no suspense and little action (yawn). The story is told more in a “matter of fact” fashion. The Marsh King’s Daughter plays out exactly as I thought it would (predictable). The “twist” was no surprise to me. I could see it coming based on Helene’s personality. For those of people who love animal (like me), there is bear hunting in the story. My favorite character (I actually liked one) was Iris, Helene’s eldest daughter (a sensitive child). The youngest, Mari sounded like a holy terror. The one good quality of The Marsh King’s Daughter was its ability to help me drift off to sleep (I suffer from insomnia).
  • bayleaf
    LibraryThing Review 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.
  • Twink
    LibraryThing Review Karen’s Dionne’s newest novel, The Marsh King’s Daughter has been getting so much press – I was eager to listen to it. Helena was born to her sixteen year old mother and her mother’s kidnapper, a
  • BrittanyLyn
    LibraryThing Review 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
  • Carolesrandomlife
    LibraryThing Review 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
  • B.J.O.
    LibraryThing Review 5 “Born & Raised in Captivity by a Kidnapper Killer” Stars for the story and the narration! If you love psychological thrillers, boy have I got a summer listen for you! The blurb of The Marsh King’s
  • Mrs.DuBois
    LibraryThing Review A 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
  • tapestry100
    LibraryThing Review Helena Pelletier’s life is more or less exactly what she wants: a husband and two daughters she loves deeply, a home business that keeps her busy during the days, her past a secret that she keeps

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