Monday 11 April 2011

Book Review: The Taker by Alma Katsu.

Product details:
Publisher: Century.
Release date: April 14th 2011.
Paperback, 448 pages.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Ages: Adult.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Have you ever loved someone so much that you'd do anything for them?

When Dr Luke Findley turns up to his hospital shift in the small town of St Andrews, Maine, he's expecting just another evening of minor injuries and domestic disputes. But instead, Lanore McIlvrae walks into his life - and changes it forever. For Lanny is a woman with a past...

Lanny McIlvrae is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. Hers is a story of love and betrayal that defies time and transcends mortality - and cannot end until Lanny's demons are finally put to rest. Her two hundred years on this earth have seen her seduced by both decadence and brutality - but through it all she has stayed true to the one true love of her life. Until now.

An unforgettable novel about the power of unrequited love to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, The Taker is an immortal love story on an epic scale...

An addictive tale of immortal love, Alma Katsu’s debut novel, The Taker, will keep you reading late into the night, and leave you wanting more. Combining elements of paranormal romance with historical fiction, this book will take you on an unmissable journey through time.

The story opens in present day Maine, in the small town of St. Andrew, where Dr. Luke Findley is about to embark on yet another monotonous shift at the Aroostook County Hospital.  Recently divorced, and living a totally unfulfilled life, Luke can’t wait to escape from St. Andrew, but somehow he hasn’t been able to make the break with the town where he grew up just yet.  However, his life is about to change forever.  From the moment Lanny McIlvrae enters his life, he somehow knows that things will never be the same again.  Lanny is a woman with a past.  Hers is a tale filled with a lot of dark and dangerous secrets, and after two hundred years of protecting her past, she has now decided to share her story with Luke.

We soon find out that Lanny was born in the town of St. Andrew two hundred years previously, but how she has come to live for so long and how and why she has returned to St. Andrew after all this time, are very interesting tales indeed.  We are taken back to early Nineteenth century Maine where we meet Lanny as a girl from a poor Puritan family.  She is consumed by her love for Jonathan St. Andrew, an exceptionally beautiful boy who, for a number of reasons, can never be hers.  The obsessive nature and destructive power of unrequited love is a recurring theme throughout the book. Lanny is deeply flawed. She is selfish in her pursuit of Jonathan. She will pretty much do whatever it takes to ensnare him.  While the reader can see all of these shortcomings in Lanny, her actions are also somehow understandable, and that’s what makes her such a fascinating character, but also one who I remained wary of throughout her story.  Even as I reached the end of the book I wasn’t quite sure if I could trust Lanny – did she have ulterior motives? What other secrets was she hiding? This is one character who certainly kept me second guessing myself as I read further into her tale.

Lanny’s destiny does not lie in St. Andrew, and she soon finds herself in Boston, where upon meeting a trio of strange characters, her life is set to change forever.  This is where the story gets really interesting, with Katsu taking us on a journey to Fourteenth century Hungary where we learn of alchemy and dark magic, and the character of Adair, who is set to become a huge part of Lanny’s life.  From here, the story adopts a distinctly gothic feel.  The Taker is certainly dark in parts and its themes are not for the faint of heart!

While I was reading The Taker I found it to be reminiscent of The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice – a series of books I was completely addicted to as a teen.  This one isn’t about Vampires, though!  For the most part, the book reminded me of Anne Rice’s books due to the masterful storytelling, epic scope and completely compelling characters throughout.  Katsu has created a wonderful story here, and you will soon find yourself completely immersed in Lanny’s tale.  The secondary cast of characters is as equally compelling as Lanny.  The depth of characterization is such that I could read a book dedicated to each of the characters Katsu has created and never tire of the stories they had to tell.

With that in mind, I am very interested to see what Alma Katsu has in store for the next book in this series.  In the last chapter of the book, there are certain hints as to what might lie in store for Lanny and Luke and I certainly can’t wait to find out more.  I recommend this one for anyone who loves paranormal romance, historical fiction or just a really great read!

The Taker is released in the UK on April 14th, and will be available in the US in September


  1. I was thinking Vampire Chronicles as I was reading your review and then you mentioned it =)
    I've never heard of this but I am putting it at the top of my must read list. I hope I'll be able to get it from Book Depository...I don't wanna wait until September for this one!

  2. I just checked, it will be available from BD on the 14th!!! I'm ordering =)

  3. I haven't read the Vampire Chronicles, but I've heard that they're amazing. This book sounds interesting, I think I'll try it:) Great review!

  4. Great review. This is the first of I heard of it but now it is on my wishlist :)

  5. You're back and with a fantastic review. This is a new title for me and it sound deliciously dark and exciting. I am loving the combination of historical fiction with paranormal romance. Thanks for introducing me to this one.

  6. I've been really excited about this book! After your review, I can't wait to read it. Thank you!

  7. You caught my interest when you said that this series is similar to The Vampire Chronicles. I've actually never heard of this, but after reading your review, I will definitely be checking it out. I could use a good paranormal romance; plus, I love historical fiction too. I hope you had a great time in Rome. I can't wait to hear all about it. I leave on Saturday!!

  8. Sounds great, and it's an adult books! Yay! I need to read more adult books. :)

  9. Wow! I want this book! I love the sound of it and the cover is just awesome.

  10. Angelique - I hope you enjoy!!

    This one was a total surprise for me - I hadn't heard of it at all before the publisher sent an email asking if I'd like a coy for review. It was a real treat!

    Christina - I want to go back to Rome! I'll be doing a photo post this week & I'll be sending you an email too! :)

  11. Spectacular review Leanna, thanks so much for sharing this one, it's new to me and now I must read it! I love that you're never quite sure about Lanny, that always makes for an interesting read when you really want to trust a character but aren't sure you can:)

  12. Ooh gosh, your review has me swooning. How I've never heard of this title before is beyond me, but it's a book that sounds right up my alley. Paranormal romance, hisstorical fiction and a touch of gothicness? Consider me sold. Adding to my TBR pile that's for sure.

  13. This sounds completely amazing, Leanna! I can't wait for this to come out in September---I suppose if I can't be patient, I'll be hitting BookDepository for the UK copy! :) Fantastic review!

  14. I used this one as my WoW this week and linked to your review =)

  15. Hi there, came via Vampires and Tofu. Your review has me totally intrigued!

  16. Wow! This sounds awesome. I'm definitely checking this one out. Love stories about mysterious small towns with the paranormal!


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