Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Wicked Sister [review]

The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne
To be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on August 4, 2020
my rating: ★★ (2 stars)
Goodreads avg: 
4.03 (as of 2020-07-22)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own. Quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and are subject to change upon publication.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

But you can be evil even if you don’t choose it.

disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own. Quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and are subject to change upon publication.

I was absolutely blown away by The Marsh King’s Daughter earlier this year and was highly anticipating Dionne’s newest release. Unfortunately, this one really fell short on expectations. If you want a mindless thriller with disturbing elements, please look no further. If you’re looking for anything more than that, perhaps think twice.

I was unconvinced from this from the start; the premise that this woman spent 15 years institutionalizing herself because she thought she did something that could have been disproven by a single line in a police report is quite frankly absurd to me. There continued to be inconsistencies and hyperbole that would pull me out of the story completely. For one, Rachel grew up learning the woods like the back of her hand. She was a vegetarian, essentially a pacifist, and deified nature. So how am I to believe that she repeatedly chucks her cigarettes to the ground and leaves them there? I know this is such a minor point to nitpick, but it just goes so vehemently against her character that I honestly couldn’t believe it! I saw the twist coming from a mile away, and one of the characters became so cartoonishly evil that it felt like Dionne wasn’t even taking things seriously anymore.

Never mind the fact that I’m starting to tire of the psychopath child trope and this truly added nothing to the genre of thrillers that rely on it. It really seemed like most of the thrills relied on pure shock value. This does work to its benefit in some ways: it’s difficult to put the novel down and it’s a fastpaced read. Something dreadful is truly lurking around every corner here.

There was also a strange fabulist element integrated into this — Rachel can apparently converse with animals. I thought at first that this was meant to skew the reader’s judgment of her: is she actually insane? But it really seems to serve little purpose other than furthering the plot in certain areas and getting Rachel to where she needs to be. It really felt like something that should have either been left out or utilized more thoroughly by Dionne.

So, this didn’t work for me at all I’m afraid. If you’re looking for something fast and simple and are able to suspend your disbelief, this could totally be the book for you. But if the above elements would be an issue, perhaps skip this one this time around.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Marsh King’s Daughter [review]

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
Published by GP Putnam’s Sons in December 2019 (originally 2017)
my rating: ★★★★.5
Goodreads avg:
3.85 (as of 2020-01-30)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads IndieBound | Author Website

Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a business that fills her days. But she also has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and despite her father’s sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too…until she learned precisely how savage he could be.

More than twenty years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn’t know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marsh. The police begin a manhunt, but Helena knows they don’t stand a chance. Knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King–because only one person was ever trained by him: his daughter.

This is certainly one of the best thrillers I’ve read. There are a lot of interesting aspects of it, including a more creative take on the abduction story as well as survivalist elements. I’m a sucker for wilderness survival stories; it’s so interesting to me to see how people live(d) without modern technology and resources. It also really helps me to appreciate my own life!

I really loved Helena as a character; she really makes you want to root for her while also acknowledging the bad decisions she’s made. She really felt fully-formed to me and this honestly felt more like a memoir than a work of fiction. The formatting also works quite well, we follow Helena through the present day as she searches for her father with relevant flashbacks that fill in the context of her earlier life.

This is also one of those books that you just don’t want to put down. The pacing is incredibly well-done. You’re led right to the edge of a precipice and then the story pivots, jumping into the past for just long enough before finally giving you the information you’re gunning for. I probably could have read this in one long sitting had I had the opportunity, and I think that would have been a breathlessly wonderful way to get through it.

I highly recommend you pick this up if the plot sounds up your alley, I’m glad I finally got around to it!

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