#CJSReads2017 – The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

Happy release day!! Today is the day – one of June’s highly anticipated titles is finally here, and the ladies of #CJSReads are going to share it with you 🙂

THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER by Karen Dionne – out today – was a page turner and definitely a binge-worthy read. We all loved it! Great characters and Dionne is a fantastic story teller.

Let’s dive on in!


Chandra’s Thoughts: 5/5 stars

Helena lives in a content world with her husband and two daughters. Happy to keep the past buried, she tries desperately to live a normal life. Then she hears that the infamous Marsh King has escaped from prison and her world turns upside down. He’s known for kidnapping a teenage girl and keeping her imprisoned in the marsh for years and starting a family with her… he’s Helena’s father. Now she has to take everything she’s learned from him to hunt him before he harms her family, seeking revenge.

Purely from Helena’s point of view, the author takes us into her past, the way she viewed the world, living without any other human contact but her parents for more than a decade of her life – to her present, where she struggles with emotions she kept hidden for so long. So long that her own family has no idea of this torturous past. This is not a happy story. This is somber, real, emotional, raw and atmospheric. The author pulls you right into Helena’s psyche and holds nothing back. In my fascination with the human mind, one subject that has always been extremely interested has been the concept of learned helplessness. “There is a psychological component to controlling a person that can be just as powerful as the physical pain you inflict on them….” Just how much can a human take, physically and emotionally, before they completely break? And how much stronger do they become when someone else’s life becomes more important to protect than their own? A compelling novel that has you reeling, Karen Dionne knows what she’s doing. This is not your typical psychological thriller. There are no full on twists but if you like to dig into the mind of a person’s journey from child prisoner to primal mother, you’ll love this book as much as I do.


Sam’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars

So many books are releasing in the next month of so that I have been highly anticipating.  The Marsh King’s Daughter, by Karen Dionne, was one of them!   I first saw this book back in January and knew I would have to read it immediately. The synopsis even gave me (the lover of all things skin crawly and creepy) the “heebie jeebies”.

When a notorious child abductor, known as The Marsh King, escapes from prison, Helena knows her family is in danger.  For what no one knows, not her husband or her children, is that she has many secrets from her childhood.  No one knows that she was born in captivity.  No one knows she had no contact with the outside world until she was twelve.  No one knows she is The Marsh King’s Daughter and that he taught her how to be a killer.  And now, her target is him.

I must say that this novel was absolutely binge-worthy.   I loved the twist on the ever-popular abduction story (think Room).  I always find novels like these ones so interesting to read about since the psychology around such an incident is so complex.  Naturally, Helena was a seriously complex character.  Struggling with what she knows is right and what she was raised to believe is right, she was such an interesting character to have the novel narrated by.

Told partially in the present, as Helena uses her hunting skills to track her father and in flashbacks to her childhood in the marsh, Native symbolism and culture made this one stand out from the rest.

Now, the one issue I had with this novel was Helena herself.  I loved how complex her character was, I loved how I was wondering if she was suffering from PTSD or maybe she truly was in cahoots with her father, but I didn’t find her necessarily too likeable.   Perhaps that was the point since her childhood upbringing made her quite “hard” and, rightfully so, but I found it hard to connect with her.

Overall, if you are a fan of the abduction thrillers and want something with a bit of a twist, The Marsh King’s Daughter would be a perfect next read.


My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

Awhile ago I was approved for the sample of THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER by Karen Dionne, and I needed more! So I was very excited to be sent a copy from Putnam. The synopsis was enough to get my attention, but I was hooked after reading the first chapter (from the sample). ‘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.’

The story begins with a news bulletin – notorious child abductor, known as the Marsh King, has escaped from maximum security prison and was last seen disappearing into the marshlands of Michigan’s upper peninsula.

Helena seems like your average mother and wife in her small town. Little does everyone know, she was in fact born in captivity, had zero contact with the outside world until she was the ripe age of 12, and that she grew up in the marshes and taught how to kill. No one in her life, not even her husband, knows that she’s the Marsh King’s daughter. Now that he’s escaped, Helena knows that she and her children are his next targets. She knows all too well that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone else – but can he outlast his daughter?

Reading the intro, about how Helena’s mother was taken by Jacob Holbrook (aka Marsh King) at the age of 13 out into the wilderness, and then only two short years later she gave birth to Helena, was crazy. When they finally escape, their story becomes an International sensation and Helena did everything she could to keep her real identity a secret so she could lead a normal life.

This was a fantastic domestic/abduction thriller. I binged on this one when I finally was able to get to it. I loved Karen Dionne’s writing style and her character development and story telling were amazing. We go back and forth from present to past. As Helena uses her childhood learned skills to track her father we get some flashbacks. Overall, the suspense was great, characters were complex, and the story telling was phenomenal. I’d highly recommend this to anyone that loves a fast paced, abduction thriller!


A big thanks to Putnam for the advanced copies in exchange for our honest reviews!


Have you read this one? If you have, or plan to, then be sure to tag us #CJSReads so we can all discuss!



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