The Taker by Alma Katsu

The Taker by Alma Katsu is one of the most intriguing, genuinely interesting, and intoxicating books I’ve read in a long time.

I can’t even begin to explain to you the complexity of this story. First, here is the description:

 True love can last an eternity . . . but immortality comes at a price. . . .

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting another quiet evening of frostbite and the occasional domestic dispute. But the minute Lanore McIlvrae—Lanny—walks into his ER, she changes his life forever. A mysterious woman with a past and plenty of dark secrets, Lanny is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. He is inexplicably drawn to her . . . despite the fact that she is a murder suspect with a police escort. And as she begins to tell her story, a story of enduring love and consummate betrayal that transcends time and mortality, Luke finds himself utterly captivated.

 

This description doesn’t even scratch the surface of the storyline in this novel. It’s one of the most original and haunting stories I’ve read all year. Thank God I did not judge this book by the US cover (above) because I would have never picked it up. I do not like it all; it reminds me of a forensic thriller cover. Ugh. However, I saw the UK cover (below) first and was immediately intrigued — not to mention the amazing title that ties so well with the true meaning of the book.

The story begins in the present but most of it takes place in the past. Initially, I hated Lanny as a character. She seemed unintelligent by making obviously bad decisions. (Can someone say Stranger Danger?) She is madly, deeply, irrevocably in love with Jonathan, the town’s most eligible bachelor. Lanny sets her sights high regardless of her lower class position. She makes bad choices and ends up in a situation that will potentially humiliate her family so she is sent away. With every hypothetical crossroads, she makes a horrible choice and it leads to terrible things. However, if she wasn’t so decision challenged the story wouldn’t lead to such amazingly awful places. I guess I can forgive her for that purpose.

There is a hypnotic effect with Katsu’s writing. There is a subconscious yearning to know what happens next; yet the reader will patiently wait to see the story unfold. It’s as if the reader is bespelled by Lanny’s story just as much as Lanny is held captive by her predicament. This story goes deep into the psychological consciousness of each character’s clouded motives that slowly unveils to a horrifying realization and continues to affect the outcome of Lanny and Jonathan’s relationship.

I can’t really say much else without ruining it. This is a heartbreaking story about the dangerous and sometimes desperate power of love. It leaves a mark on you, like the invisible scars of a traumatic experience. This story isn’t something I would recommend to everyone. It has almost a sacred power to it, leaving the reader speechless and dumbfounded from the deep, forbidden places you are forced to go.

The sequel, The Reckoning, will be out June 2012.

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