The Marsh King’s Daughter – Karen Dionne #MarshKing


The Marsh King’s Daughter was published by Sphere on 13 June 2017 and is available to buy here

THE MOST THRILLING READ OF THE SUMMER – packed with gripping suspense and powerful storytelling, The Marsh King’s Daughter is a unique one-more-page, read-in-one-sitting thriller that you’ll remember for ever.

‘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 would have been a lot more understanding of my mother. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When the 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.

The Marsh King’s Daughter will captivate you from the start and chill you to the bone.

My thoughts

The Marsh King’s Daughter is a book that hooked me instantly. I was drawn to the enigma of the disturbing and intense relationship between the father and the daughter. This is not your usual kidnapping story. It is the coming of age tale of an articulate victim.

The story focuses on Helena. Helena was raised with a mother and a father in the wild marshes of Michigan. They live off the land, killing animals for meat and growing vegetables. They rarely come into contact with anyone in the outside world. This makes sense to Helena. It is all she has ever known. A life without electricity. A small place in the middle of no where to call home. Helena eventually learns that her father kidnapped her mother, as a teenager. They are captives. As she grows up, she starts to see the signs that her beloved Dad has a vicious dark side.

We meet Helena, as an adult and a wife. Her father, known as the Marsh King by the media, has escaped from prison. He seeks her out. This becomes a cat and mouse game, between Helena and her father. Both skilled hunters and trackers, Helena is on her guard. Will she be able to find the Marsh King before the police do?

This is not a fast paced thriller. It is more subtle than that, giving us a view into an unsettling and creepy life. We slowly unravel the family dynamics. Imagine your life as a prisoner of a psychopath, alone and afraid. That is the reality for Helena’s mother. A woman who seems to be frozen in time, by the horrors of her bleak life. We see Helena failing to understand her mother. Helena is as much a prisoner, as her mother. She has been socialised into this life, locked away from the world. The Marsh King becomes almost mythical, like a disturbing character in a fairy tale. A loving Dad teaching his daughter how to kill. A monster who inspires the love of a little girl. A rapist who controls the people around him. A man with no conscience.

Beautifully written and constructed, The Marsh King’s Daughter is a story that is impossible to ignore. It is not the Waltons. We are seeing into a life of a family bound together by force. It invites you to empathise. It grips your emotions. It makes you feel. Recommended.



About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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