Monday, January 14, 2013

Review of "The Taker" by Alma Katsu

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.

Her impassioned account begins at the turn of the nineteenth century in the same small town of St. Andrew, Maine, back when it was a Puritan settlement. Consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, Lanny will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for all eternity. And now, two centuries later, the key to her healing and her salvation lies with Dr. Luke Findley.

Part historical novel, part supernatural page-turner, The Taker is an unforgettable tale about the power of unrequited love not only to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, and how each of us is responsible for finding our own path to redemption. (From Goodreads)

Wow. This book. I was completely intrigued with it and couldn't put it down. I've had it in my Kindle for a really long time and just got around to reading it. I don't recall how I came to purchase it, who recommended it. But I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it because it was incredible. Amazing. Heart breaking. I seriously don't have the words to do it justice. 

It's the first in a trilogy, which makes me happy because I don't like to say goodbye to characters that have so thoroughly penetrated into my brain and heart. There are also two short stories (novellas) that go along with it as well. (I've read one but still have to read the second.)

seriously, that's how I felt with this book

The supernatural part of this book is not like most of the supernatural/paranormal/urban fantasy books I read. It's almost part of the behind-the-scenes or the background, not the foreground. Though it is undeniably instrumental to a love story that spans hundreds of years, it is most definitely secondary to the love story that feels like the main story line to me. This is really more of a historical novel that spans hundreds of years but follows only one person.  

Lanore (Lanny) is our main narrator and over the course of the novel, she revisits her epic love story with Jonathan St. Andrew, spanning from the early 1800s to today. The tragic part of their story is common even to women today - they may love each other, but she loves him more than he loves her. For regular people, even if you were to love that one person for the rest of your life, you know that upon your (or his) death, you will eventually find peace. But for immortal Lanny, it means a life bound to be plagued by disappointment. It made me so sad for her.

"Have you ever been in love with someone so badly that you'd do anything for them? That no matter what you want, you want their happiness more?"

Throughout the book, we are brought to the present day with brief chapters seen from Luke's point of view. While these chapters are obviously important to let us know what is going on with Lanny and Jonathan today, I found they took me away from Lanny's stories of the past at inopportune times, right when I was completely immersed. We also take a brief sojourn to the 1200s to visit Adair's history. Adair is a very complicated character, who I expect we will learn a lot more about in the second book. 

There's a lot of history here and bits and pieces of alchemy and magic. If you've read my review of "Shadow of Night" you know I have issues with alchemy, but thankfully this seems to be more magical than alchemical, which seems oddly easier to understand.

Even though Jonathan is the love of Lanny's life, I found myself really disliking him. I think he reminded me too much of some of the men I've been involved with. Not because of his exquisite beauty or his ability to make any and all women fall in love with him, but because of how he dragged Lanny along. It's obvious to me that he knows he will never love Lanny the way she wants him to - the way she loves him, but he never explicitly tells her this. She is always hopeful for more from him and never gets it. I've been through that. It sucks. I would honestly go crazy if I had to endure that type of pain for hundreds of years, as Lanny does. I feel like if he had just told her in the beginning, when they were teenagers, it would have spared them both a lot of heartache in the end. (But of course we wouldn't have this story if that were the case!)

Their relationship also reminded me of how I fail to see the most negative aspects of the men I date and how I frequently want more from them than they can give me. It's sometimes difficult when you're in the middle of the relationship, and so hopeful that this will be the one, to see the flaws.

Lanny is incredibly self deprecating and has terrible self esteem. She doesn't believe that she is ever good enough, beautiful enough. She believes that if she can secure a man's interest sexually, then she has more worth. Again it's something that, disturbingly, I've seen in myself in the past. I hope to see her correct this, grow out of this, do something about this aspect of herself, in the next book, because it's a really awful trait. 

"There is not only one measure of beauty, Lanore. Everyone adores the red rose, and yet it is a common sort of beauty. You are like a golden rose, a rare bloom but no less lovely."

Anyway, I highly recommend this book. (Though if you're not into historical fiction and are really only looking for a supernatural novel, this isn't the book for you.) I think anybody who likes Deborah Harkness' writing style will really like this book, too. I can't wait to read the second book (it's waiting for me right now!) but the third book doesn't come out until sometime in 2014.

book two

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