Published June 13, 2017 By G.P. Putnam’s Sons

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.


I was very intrigued by the premise of this book. I’m usually always on board for a good game of cat & mouse and this seemed like the ultimate game…daughter verses father. We are first introduced to Helena when she’s grown and the married mom to two little girls. When she hears on the news that the identity of a local prison escapee is her father, her carefully crafted life with her new identity and family explodes. Very quickly she decides she’s the only one who is cunning enough to track down and take on her father; after all, he taught her everything she knows about hunting and killing prey.

The narrative alternates between the present game of cat & mouse and Helena’s childhood , starting when she was born to a mother who was herself a young teenager. Her mother had been kidnapped by Helena’s father, who’s known as The Marsh King. There are very long, detailed descriptions of Helena’s growing up years in the wilderness with her father being the person she spent the most time with. Very long. Very detailed. While I appreciate the exceptional literary skills of the author in these sections, I found that my mind wandered and many times I found myself skimming through to get back to the present. Another reason I skimmed these past sections, and something I wish I would’ve known going in was the very graphic and for me disturbing scenes of hunting and killing many wilderness animals. I know many people hunt but for me, I just don’t have a desire to read scenes like that and that caused me to skip large portions of the text.  In the end, the back and forth of time frames led to a lack of the much needed suspense I was looking for in a book billed as a thriller. I’m very much in the minority in terms of this book not being for me so I’d urge you to try it for yourself and decide.

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for my copy, I’m happy to provide an honest review


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32 thoughts on “REVIEW: THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER BY Karen Dionne

  1. Sorry to hear that this book didn’t work out for you. I have been seeing it around though hadn’t seen mentions about the animals being tortured. It sounds really graphic so I get why these sections bugged you.

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  2. Oh Renee! This one is coming up on my TBR very soon. I’m not thrilled to hear of the animal abuse- maybe I’ll wait until I’m in the right place emotionally to deal with it.

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    1. I know many people hunt and in the book they did it for food, however, I’m not comfortable reading about scenes of animals being hunted, shot, caught in traps etc. I just can’t read it. I think I’m the only reviewer on goodreads who’s bothered though so yes, give it a try for yourself:)


  3. I loved this one especially because it was so detailed and I was interested in that kind of living.. I do understand however that if you want it to be a real thriller you have to wait a long time to get what you want. I have made a reference in my review as well about one scene that was unsettling and which I didn’t read.. I’m sorry to hear this didn’t really work out for you as hoped. Great review though!

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    1. Thanks Inge! I was somewhat hesitant to post this review as I really feel like I’m the only one who didn’t enjoy it but that’s the fun things about books, what one person loves, another may not. Her writing was so good so I can see why others loved the childhood details for sure.

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      1. There is never a right and wrong in reviewing and in liking or disliking books! I really value your opinion and I really don’t mind if someone doesn’t like a novel as much as I did :-). It’s funny how we all experience things differently sometimes 🙂

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  4. Not being a fan of descriptive details of hunting, it’s understandable you would skip paragraphs of this one. You explained really well why this one didn’t work for you and while I loved it, I can see why you didn’t 🙂

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  5. It was unsettling yes, as Inge said, I loved it especially because of those reasons but if you can’t read about animals and those type of scenes, then it’s completely normal that you didn’t enjoy this one. We already talked about this one, but I hope we find a new one that we both love 😛

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  6. I was on the last four chapters of this book when I saw you had posted your review of it yesterday, so I avoided reading your review until I finished it today. I bought this one as an audio book the day it came out (took your advice and used Audible) because of all the glowing reviews and hype. I’m still thinking about this one, and how to review it. It may end up as one of my mini-reviews unless I can really wrap my mind around it. It definitely wasn’t what I expected at all. I love a fantastic psychological thriller and suspense, and yes, this had both, but not quite in the way I expected. There were parts of the book that I really enjoyed a lot, but I was quite disturbed about the killing of the animals like you were. I actually sat here and cried during the incident with her first dog and had to take a break. I’m a huge animal welfare advocate and volunteer at our local no-kill shelter, so that was impossibly hard to read. Even reading the flashback scenes of her growing up in the Marsh were so hard to read as well, but I understand why they were necessary to the story. It was excellent writing and an excellent plot, but it disturbed me and not in a good way like I usually enjoy. I think I’m in the minority with this one too since I couldn’t rate it 5 stars as I hoped.

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    1. I felt the exact same Stephanie as far as the dog scene I saw where it was going and I had to skip the entire scene. I also pretty much had a hard time with all her flashbacks of learning to hunt etc. I just can’t read all of that. It sounds like you may have liked it better than me though. If you’d be interested in another literary thriller, one that I’d say is truly literary and truly has thriller elements, I highly recommend The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley!! I’m looking forward to your review of this one:)


      1. I was listening to an audio book, so I didn’t “see” any of those awful things coming. The hunting flashbacks really made me sick, especially the one with the baby doe 😢. I admit I cried there too. I wanted to skip parts but wasn’t sure when the bad parts would be over since I was listening to it. I will say that the narrator was excellent, and she gave the story some thrills and chills I think the story probably lacked in print. I gave it 3 stars, so I didn’t hate it. But, it was a disappointment after all the hype. I expected to be wowed!! Child abuse and animal abuse are my triggers to being turned off by a book and having a hard time reading them. I’ll have to check out the Hawley book! Thank you for the recommendation 😊 Oh, I tried writing a review earlier, but it was garbage, lol. Maybe once I stop seeing the dog in my head I can get it together. I need to write 2 other reviews anyway, but I was hoping to just get this one over with!! That sounds awful…

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      2. I honestly wish I had known beforehand too. I probably would have passed on the book completely. This may end up being one book I save for a mini review since everything else I’ve finished this week has been fantastic! I’d rather spend my time happily reviewing those two books instead! Trudging through the review is an apt description…

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