A Book Spy Review: ‘The Marsh King’s Daughter’ By Karen Dionne


When a convicted felon escapes from prison, there is only one person who possesses the necessary skills to track him down–the same person who put him behind bars more than a decade ago…his daughter. 

Helena, the daughter of the notorious Marsh King child abductor, Jacob Holbrook, had a very odd childhood. Born into captivity, though she didn’t know it as a young child, Helena was raised in the swamp-filled Upper Peninsula of Michigan. And, as soon as she was able to, Helena left her old life behind to start a new one. 

Now, for the first time in her life, Helena is happy. She’s married with two daughters and has finally made her life resemble that of a normal person. All it takes, though, is a knock on the door to temporarily unravel everything she’s built. 

When the police show up at her house asking questions about her father–who was convicted of, among other things, rape, kidnapping, and murder–Helena’s husband, Stephen,  is both stunned and frightened. Upon learning the truth about his wife’s past, information he wasn’t previously privy to, he takes their daughters and heads to his parent’s house out of state.

After hearing the officers recount the details of Jacob’s escape, at which time they explained that he disappeared into the woods about thirty miles from their house, Helena stays behind. Convinced that law enforcement officials will never be able to track her father down on their own, Helena takes it upon herself to use the very skills her father taught her as a child to help apprehend him. 

Because we don’t know much about Helena when she’s introduced, Dionne spends a lot of time explaining and developing the character through a series of flashbacks. While this style of storytelling works at first, it does get a tad tiring to constantly be taken back in time–especially once the story picks up. 

While Jacob is most definitely a monster, Dionne adds an extra emotional element by revealing that, to the unassuming and ill-informed little Helena, the Marsh King was really just a dad. She had no idea who he was, or how the outside world would soon come to see him.

Looking back, Helena remembers the fishing trips and story times, oblivious to the fact that she and her mother were actually being held captive. Those emotions cause intermittent bouts of conflict as Helena, in the present day, tries to help track down her father.

That conflict, plus the overall gravity of the situation, makes The Marsh King’s Daughter a suspenseful, entertaining thriller that most people can relate to in one way or another.

Book Details

Author: Karen Dionne
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0735213003
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6/10
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