By Alma Katsu
Publisher: Gallery Press
Release Date: 9/6/2011
Source: From Publisher
Is it possible to become completely absorbed in a book and find all of the characters reprehensible in some way? The answer is yes. The Taker is a beautifully written, mesmerizing tale, but the characters! They are so terribly flawed, but I could not look away. It's the kind of book that leaves you wondering who the real villain was. The Taker is actually stories within a story, from the past and the present, effortlessly woven together.
The story begins as a suspected murderer is brought into the emergency room of a rural Maine hospital to be examined. The present day part of the book is told in third person, but in the present tense, which I though gave the story an eerie feel. At first I thought the present tense felt awkward, but it really worked well with the tone of the story. Luke Findley, the doctor on call, suspects something is amiss with his mysterious patient, other than the fact she claims to have just stabbed a man to death. The woman, Lanny, tries to convince Luke to help her escape. She begins to tell Luke her sorrowful story that began 200 years ago.
Lanny's tale of her past is told in first person. Lanny grew up in a Puritan family in the Maine Territory at the beginning of the 19th century. As a young teen, she became infatuated with Jonathan, the most beautiful and unattainable boy in their village. He was from a wealthy family and the son of the town's founder. He used his beauty and charm to seduce any willing woman in the village, married or not. Lanny's love for Jonathan became an obsession. She was selfish and jealous, willing to do anything to possess him.
Completely fascinated by this strange woman's tale, Luke decides to help Lanny escape from the hospital. While on the run, she continues with her story. She tells him how her indiscretions with Jonathan result in her being sent to Boston; how she falls prey to a wicked Romanian count called Adair; and how Adair uses magic to make her immortal. And through it all, her obsessive love for Jonathan never wanes. Lanny tells Luke just how far she was willing to go have Jonathan as her own - forever.
The historical detail was so rich. My favorite part of the story was when Lanny and Jonathan were in their rural town of St. Andrews in the early 1800s. I actually became a bit detached from the story after Lanny arrived in Boston because I loved the other part so much.
The Taker is a dark, gothic tale of obsession, betrayal, sex, and debauchery. It was most definitely gripping, the type of story that will stay with you after you've read it. I've read that The Taker is the first book of a planned trilogy, and I so hope that's true. There are still important questions that need answers. Lanny's tale is far from over.