On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting another quiet evening of frostbite and the occasional domestic dispute. But the minute Lanore McIlvrae—Lanny—walks into his ER, she changes his life forever. A mysterious woman with a past and plenty of dark secrets, Lanny is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. He is inexplicably drawn to her, despite the fact that she is a murder suspect with a police escort. And as she begins to tell her story, a story of enduring love and consummate betrayal that transcends time and mortality, Luke finds himself utterly captivated.Her impassioned account begins at the turn of the nineteenth century in the same small town of St. Andrew, Maine, back when it was a Puritan settlement. Consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, Lanny will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for all eternity. And now, two centuries later, the key to her healing and her salvation lies with Dr. Luke Findley. Part historical novel, part supernatural page-turner, The Taker is an unforgettable tale about the power of unrequited love not only to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, and how each of us is responsible for finding our own path to redemption.
The Taker by Alma Katsu is a historical love story with supernatural elements and a dark underbelly. I read this novel for a book of the month selection on Goodreads. It had elements I expected and some that made me squeamish. Overall I enjoyed this strange and dark tale. Katsu is a talented writer and her writing style captivated me. Some of the subject matter made me uncomfortable and I found myself skimming through those scenes. Ordinarily I would have stopped reading, but I had this overwhelm need to know Lanore’s story.- that is the beauty of Katsu’s writing.
The tale begins at a rural hospital in Maine. Dr. Luke Findley is just beginning his shift and is told the local police are bringing in a murder suspect and need him to check her over. When Lanore McIlvrae walks in, he is shocked that this tiny, beautiful blonde, with cork-screw curls and blue eyes is involved in a murder. She is covered in blood and won’t speak. The police leave a guard and head out to the woods to find the body of the man she confessed to killing. Once inside an exam room, Lanore (Lanny as she prefers), asks Findley to help her escape. She claims that she only helped a friend die at his request and that there are things he cannot understand. Not easily duped he proceeds to examine her, removing Lanny’s bloody clothing and looking for injuries. It is then that Lanny grabs a scalpel and shows Findley something he won’t soon forget. She then proceeds to tell him her story….the tale that unfolds is romantic, dark, gritty and spans nearly two hundred years.
Lanore shares her life story with us. She begins her tale in 1809 set against the Maine Territory. The author skillful takes us from the present to the past. Lanore tells the past, and Findley the present. This was clever because Findley could clarify things by asking questions about what we had just read. The tale that Lanore share’s with us is so unbelievable that it had a ring of truth to it. It is a one-sided love story about her and a man named Jonathan. It is filled with obsession, alchemy, and magic. Some of the events that occur in Boston, supernatural elements aside, are probably based in truth, but nevertheless made this reader uncomfortable. There are two sides to Lanore and I found her to be complex and interesting. When it came to Jonathan and her feelings for him, she was a naïve, love sick child. Then the author shows us the darker side of Lanore and I was entranced. At times I questioned her feelings for Jonathan, especially after his selfish acts. Findley is captivated and horrified by Lanore and her story. Yet he is unable to resist hearing it to its conclusion. Lanore’s story contains lots of sex, some implied and others graphic. It contains all forms of sexual encounters and may offend some readers. Think of an opium house and you will get the idea.
Katsu offers us an intriguing look at unrequited love. While some of the subject matter was dark, I ultimately enjoyed the Taker. Days after reading it, I find myself thinking about Lanore and Jonathan. This is part of a trilogy and book two, The Reckoning will be published June 19, 2012. I recommend this to fans of dark fiction. Katsu is a talented author and I look forward to reading more of her work.
I gave this 4 coffee cups out of 5
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