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Book Review: The Taker by Alma Katsu (Audiobook)

3 Aug

Genre: Paranormal

Publisher: Random House AudioBooks

Pub date: 18 May 2011

Source: Personal copy

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: Laurel Lefkow

Length: 14 hrs and 51 mins

Synopsis
Dr Luke Findley starts his shift at the hospital in St. Andrews, Maine, expecting a day like every other. When Lanore (Lanny) McIlvrae is brought in by the police as she has admitted to killing someone, Luke’s night, and perhaps his life, changes.

Lanny gets Luke to help her escape from the police but he’s not sure this is the right thing to do. To convince him that he has done the right thing, Lanny tells him the story of her strange past… starting in St. Andrews 200 years ago!

Review

Lanny breezes into Luke’s life surrounded by an aura of mystery and manages to make him act completely out of character. Lanny’s magical aura is what attracts Luke, but I was as interested as him to find out where Lanny came from and what she was. Her story starts in St Andrews 200 years ago where she was the daughter of a poor family. Even as a young girl, she was in love with Jonathan St. Andrews, the son of the founder of the town.

Lanny is naive and shrewd in turns. Stubborn and tenacious, she’ll do anything to have Jonathan, no matter what it means to anyone else. But differences in class meant that she could never have him the way she wanted. This unrequited love is the reason Lanny has to leave her home in order to preserve her reputation and that of her family. Her love for Jonathan sets in motion a series of events that turns out to be destructive.

Lanny finds herself in Boston where a bunch of people take her in and she joins the household of Adair. This is a strange and eerie house filled with secrets, where a mistake can be very costly. From here the story goes back another 400 years to Adair’s life and the beginning of the cycle of immortality.

Lanny’s story was painfully honest, even revealing the reprehensible things she has done to attain her one goal – Jonathan. Jonathan, as far as I could see, only had his beauty going for him. Many years and a lot of heartbreak later, Lanny still can’t let him go.

In this story within a story within a story, my favourite part was Adair’s story. Adair is a well-drawn character. He’s multifaceted – cruel, kind, generous and capricious. His story was also filled with dark magic, ambition and adventure that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Alma Katsu’s writing is beautiful and evocative and the story moves at a slow pace – befitting a tale about immortality.

I didn’t like Lanny, but I found her character highly intriguing. She gets swept along because of some bad choices and circumstances and then makes the best of her situation. I was enthralled by this fantastic tale, eager to understand how Lanny ended up here and what otherworldly powers she possessed. Unrequited love is hard enough, but how much more painful is it when the love is immortal?

The audiobook: I had some trouble with the narrator initially, but soon got sucked into the story. This was definitely not my favourite narrator, and I can’t really spell out what bothered me. But consuming this as an audiobook definitely worked since it is a long novel filled with a number descriptive passages. Hearing it rather than reading it always helps me picture it a lot better.

Verdict

Highly recommended. This is a great pick for fans of fantasy and paranormal (especially for those want to stay away from the vampire and zombie stories). The historical fiction aspects of it are also very well done. I’m now impatiently waiting for the sequel The Reckoner.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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