The Marsh King's Daughter
by Karen Dionne
Settle in for an excellent psychological thriller with Karen Dionne's, The Marsh King's Daughter. Helena Pelletier has buried her past as the daughter of a kidnapper and the young teen he abducted. Growing up in a remote area in Michigan, Helena had no idea that her mother was being held against her will. She was twelve before she learned the truth and met opportunity to take her mother and run.
Their story made national headlines. Reporters became most interested in Helena, a “wild child” who could track and trap as well as her father, a man to whom she had been devoted and who had tattooed Helena to mark each success in her homeschool of wilderness survival skills. To escape the notoriety, Helena left town and started a new life, severing contact with her mother and grandparents.
Fast forward several years and Helena has two little girls and a husband who know nothing of her past. And that's when she hears the news bulletin: her father has killed two guards and escaped from prison. Helena immediately knows that the police won't be successful at tracking him in the wild marsh where she grew up, the place she knows her father will surely head. Police will seek her out to assist, and her secret will be revealed.
The details of Helena's life before and after her escape are spooled out with admirable synchronization and creativity, but it is when she begins tracking her father that readers will be most riveted. Each chapter is introduced with a quote from a dark fairy tale with the same title: The Marsh King's Daughter, by Hans Christian Andersen, with chilling omens of things to come. Dionne's obvious understanding of a psychopath's issues of control and manipulation make the story leap from the pages—an excellent work by a talented author.
Reviewed by Sue Ellis.
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Karen Dionne cofounded Backspace, an online writers' community. Belonging to a writers' group is often a positive thing for those involved, a place to learn one's craft via critiques from fellow members.
It also didn't hurt that Dionne had a homesteading experience in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the locale she chose for her book. Writing what you know always lends a feeling of authenticity to a piece.