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The Marsh King's Daughter
Cover of The Marsh King's Daughter
The Marsh King's Daughter
INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

"Brilliant....About as good as a thriller can be."—The New York Times Book Review
"[A] nail-biter perfect for Room fans."—Cosmopolitan

"Sensationally good psychological suspense."—Lee Child

Praised by Karin Slaughter and Megan Abbott, The Marsh King's Daughter is the mesmerizing tale of a woman who must risk everything to hunt down the dangerous man who shaped her past and threatens to steal her future: her father.

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.
INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

"Brilliant....About as good as a thriller can be."—The New York Times Book Review
"[A] nail-biter perfect for Room fans."—Cosmopolitan

"Sensationally good psychological suspense."—Lee Child

Praised by Karin Slaughter and Megan Abbott, The Marsh King's Daughter is the mesmerizing tale of a woman who must risk everything to hunt down the dangerous man who shaped her past and threatens to steal her future: her father.

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.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book 1

    Wait here," I tell my three-year-old. I lean through the truck's open window to fish between her booster seat and the passenger door for the plastic sippy cup of lukewarm orange juice she threw in a fit of frustration. "Mommy will be right back."

    Mari reaches for the cup like Pavlov's puppy. Her bottom lip pokes out and tears overflow. I get it. She's tired. So am I.

    "Uh-uh-uh," Mari grunts as I start to walk away. She arches her back and pushes against the seat belt as if it's a straitjacket.

    "Stay put, I'll be right back." I narrow my eyes and shake my finger so she knows I mean business and go around to the back of the truck. I wave at the kid stacking boxes on the loading dock by the delivery entrance to Markham's—Jason, I think is his name—then lower the tailgate to grab the first two boxes of my own.

    "Hi, Mrs. Pelletier!" Jason returns my wave with twice the enthusiasm I gave him. I lift my hand again so we're even. I've given up telling him to call me Helena.

    Bang-bang-bang from inside the truck. Mari is whacking her juice cup against the window ledge. I'm guessing it's empty. I bang the flat of my hand against the truck bed in response—bang-bang-bang—and Mari startles and twists around, her baby-fine hair whipping across her face like corn silk. I give her my best "cut it out if you know what's good for you" scowl, then heft the cartons to my shoulder. Stephen and I both have brown hair and eyes, as does our five-year-old, Iris, so he marveled over this rare golden child we created until I told him my mother was a blonde. That's all he knows.

    Markham's is the next-to-last delivery of four, and the primary sales outlet for my jams and jellies, aside from the orders I pick up online. Tourists who shop at Markham's Grocery like the idea that my products are locally made. I'm told a lot of customers purchase several jars to take home as gifts and souvenirs. I tie gingham fabric circles over the lids with butcher's string and color-code them according to contents: red for raspberry jam, purple for elderberry, blue for blueberry, green for cattail-blueberry jelly, ­yellow for dandelion, pink for wild apple–chokecherry—you get the idea. I think the covers look silly, but people seem to like them. And if I'm going to get by in an area as economically depressed as the Upper Peninsula, I have to give people what they want. It's not rocket science.

    There are a lot of wild foods I could use and a lot of different ways to fix them, but for now I'm sticking with jams and jellies. Every business needs a focus. My trademark is the cattail line drawing I put on every label. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who mixes ground cattail root with blueberries to make jelly. I don't add much, just enough to justify including cattail in the name. When I was growing up, young cattail spikes were my favorite vegetable. They still are. Every spring I toss my waders and a wicker basket in the back of my pickup and head for the marshes south of our place. Stephen and the girls won't touch them, but Stephen doesn't care if I cook them as long as I fix just enough for me. Boil the heads for a few minutes in salted water and you have one of the finest vegetables around. The texture is a little dry and mealy, so I eat mine with butter now, but of course, butter was nothing I'd tasted when I was a child.

    Blueberries I pick in the logged-over areas south of our place. Some years the blueberry crop is better than others. Blueberries like a lot of sun. Indians used to set fire to the underbrush to improve the yield. I'll admit, I've been tempted. I'm not the only person out on the...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 3, 2017
    Helena Pelletier, the narrator of Dionne’s (Freezing Point) exceptional hardcover debut, a psychological thriller, lives an ordinary life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—mother to five-year-old Iris and three-year-old Mari, wife to Stephen—but her childhood was not normal. Her mother was kidnapped at age 14 by Jacob Holbrook and taken to a remote cabin, where Helena was born three years later. When Helena was about 12, she and her mother escaped, their rescue making international headlines. No one, not even Stephen, knows her background, until Jacob escapes from prison after 13 years, killing two guards before disappearing into the woods less than 30 miles from the Pelletiers’ house. Knowing how he thinks, Helena is the only one who can find Jacob. Detailed flashbacks show Helena had an odd but decent childhood. To the world, Jacob was a monster; to Helena, he was just her father, who taught her to fish, hunt, and track, and told involving stories, and was occasionally brutal. Helena’s conflicting emotions about her father and her own identity elevate this powerful story. Author tour. Agent: Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary Management.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2017
    The daughter of an escaped convict tracks her father through the wilderness while reflecting upon her childhood as his prisoner.When Helena Pelletier learns that notorious kidnapper, rapist, and murderer Jacob Holbrook (aka The Marsh King) is no longer in police custody, she panics; Jacob is Helena's dad, and 13 years ago she put him behind bars. Born and raised in a swamp in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Helena didn't know that she and her mother were captives until they were rescued. Her new family knows nothing about her past, so when the cops show up at her house looking for leads, her husband, Stephen, is stunned. He packs the kids into the car and decamps to his parents' place in Green Bay, but Helena stays put, certain the authorities can't catch Jacob without her help. Helena's race to find The Marsh King is pulse-pounding stuff, but the bulk of the story comprises a string of loosely connected flashbacks to Helena's youth. Her conflicted feelings about Jacob ring true, but they also undercut tension, throttle pace, and de-fang the book's boogeyman. Dionne's (The Killing: Uncommon Denominator, 2014, etc.) efforts to tie her plot to the Hans Christian Andersen fable of the same name feel contrived and further disrupt the narrative drive. Dionne tries to strike a balance between psychological thriller and coming-of-age tale, but the end result feels more like an unsettling walk down Memory Lane.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    February 1, 2017
    Taking its title from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale but set in the marshlands of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, this thriller features Helena Pelletier, raised by an abusive father who had kidnapped her teenage mother. Now he's escaped from prison, and the adult Helena is the only person who can hunt him down through the marshes. Lots of bidding and rights sold to 20 countries so far.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Marsh King's Daughter
The Marsh King's Daughter
Karen Dionne
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