Book Review: The Marsh King’s Daughter, by Karen Dionne

Publisher:  Little, Brown Book Group UK – Sphere

Publication date:  13th June 2017 (Kindle) | 29th June 2017 (Hardback)


the-marsh-kings-daughter-by-karen-dionneThe Marsh King’s Daughter is a thoroughly engaging read. The pursuit of an escaped prisoner with a history of delirious intention is pretty suspenseful stuff, even more so when you place a family of innocents in his path.

Without a doubt this is Helena’s story, which she narrates candidly and without sensation – when the truth is as newsworthy as this there is no need for embellishment. The static emotion of her voice begged me to settle down to listen as she calmly recounts events of her life, including her parents’ surreal relationship, where her father kidnapped her mother and Helena was the result of that forced union.

To Helena her former life of twelve years was unremarkable as it was the only life she knew. The only remnants of her primitive upbringing are her social peculiarities that slip from time-to-time and the observations of her own children where she watches them interact in the big, wide world that was once alien to her. Yet her husband, her neighbours, and her children are not aware of her past. To them she’s a quirky character who sells preserves to the local market and often forgets the importance of time – nothing would suggest she is the daughter of the infamous Jacob Holbrook currently serving a sentence in a maximum security prison. At least he was until a radio bulletin alerted her to his dramatic escape.               

At this point you can feel the cogs of her still unfamiliar new world grind to a breath-catching halt. What the hell are her unhinged father’s motives after thirteen long years in captivity? The pace intensifies as her immediate concern is to protect her family in the only way she knows. She assuredly practises the harsh life lessons her ‘Marsh King’ father taught her and embarks on a private manhunt, following the brutal trail he appears to have ‘gifted’ to her.

Each checkpoint on her eye-opening journey evokes scenes of the Holbrook family’s curious relationship in a wooden shack so isolated, all young Helena had to taunt her of what lay beyond the swamp were the yellowing pages of National Geographic magazines where so-called new discoveries had occurred decades ago.  The evolving story line must be applauded as the past and the present blur and it’s impossible to tell who is hunting who.

This is an unflinching chronicle of remembrance through the indisputable honesty of the eyes of a child, which shows us everything even though she didn’t realise what she was witnessing at the time. While these hostile and unforgiving experiences would never be considered nostalgic to an outsider, as an adult they now keep her grounded and help her to come to terms with something she can never escape – the earth-shattering truth that she will always be The Marsh King’s Daughter.

Rating:    4/5

(It is my pleasure to provide this unbiased review for this title that was provided by the publisher via Netgalley.)


(Courtesy of Netgalley)

The suspense thriller of the year – The Marsh King’s Daughter will captivate you from the start and chill you to the bone.

‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

Packed with gripping suspense and powerful storytelling, The Marsh King’s Daughter is a one-more-page, read-in-one-sitting thriller that you’ll remember for ever.



(Courtesy of Author’s own website)

Karen Dionne is the author of The Marsh King’s Daughter, a dark psychological suspense novel set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness coming June 13, 2017 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the U.S. and Canada, and 20 other countries.

She is co-founder of the online writers community Backspace, and organises the Salt Cay Writers Retreat held every other year on a private island in the Bahamas. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology.

Karen’s short fiction has appeared in Bathtub Gin, The Adirondack Review, Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, and Thought Magazine, as well as First Thrills: High-Octane Stories from the Hottest Thriller Authors, an anthology of short stories from bestselling and emerging authors edited by Lee Child.

Karen has written about the publishing industry from an author’s perspective for AOL’s Daily Finance, and blogs at The Huffington Post. Other articles and essays have been published in Writer’s Digest MagazineRT Book ReviewsGuide to Literary Agents, and Handbook of Novel Writing (Writers Digest Books).

Karen has been honoured by the Michigan Humanities Council as a Humanities Scholar for her body of work as an author, writer, and as co-founder of Backspace. She enjoys nature photography and lives with her husband in Detroit’s northern suburbs.



17 thoughts on “Book Review: The Marsh King’s Daughter, by Karen Dionne

  1. Great review. I am interested in reading this book and the premise definitely sounds great. I think my only concern right now is that other bloggers mentioned that its graphic.That has made me hesitant though I still want to read it soon. Glad you liked it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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