THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER by Karen Dionne


Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Source: Penguin’s First to Read Program
Rating: ★★★★★


Praised by Lee Child and Karin Slaughter, and sure to thrill fans of The Girl on the Train and The Widow, The Marsh King’s Daughter is mesmerizing psychological suspense, the story 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.

At last, Helena Pelletier has the life she deserves. A loving husband, two beautiful daughters, a business that fills her days. Then she catches an emergency news announcement and realizes she was a fool to think she could ever leave her worst days behind her.

Helena 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. No electricity, no heat, no running water, not a single human beyond the three of them. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature — fishing, tracking, hunting. And despite her father’s odd temperament and sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too…until she learned precisely how savage a person 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 marshland he knows better than anyone else in the world. The police commence 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.


Wow, wow, wow. I was riveted by this book, completely glued to the pages! THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER was more than just gripping psychological suspense; it was also a compelling blend of literary fiction and unique coming of age story.

This book tells the unusual life story of Helena Pelletier. She’s a wife, mother, and small business owner, but at one time her life was very strange, and growing up she didn’t realize it. The father whom she adored was actually a monster, a cruel psychopath who kidnapped her mother when she was a teenager. The three of them lived in an isolated cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, completely cutoff from the rest of the world, until Helena was twelve years old. Now, after spending many years in prison, her father has escaped, and the only person cunning and skilled enough to track such as man is Helena herself.

Helena’s story alternates between the present as she hunts for her father, and the past when they lived alone in the marshlands. Moving between the two time periods bumped up the suspense. I was equally fascinated by both! As the reader, you already know that Helena will be separated from her father, but how? What was their life like before she knew the truth? What was it like for Helena to join the “real world,” and eventually be compelled to hunt him after his escape? My need for these answers made this a read-in-one-sitting situation!

THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER is a beautifully written book and a nail-biter at the same time. I loved it. Helena, her mother, and their haunting story will stick with me for a long time. Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

ALL THE BEST PEOPLE by Sonja Yoerg


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★½


An intricately crafted story of madness, magic and misfortune across three generations from the author of The Middle of Somewhere and House Broken…

Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.

An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives.


ALL THE BEST PEOPLE is a family drama spanning three generations, from the 1920s to the 1970s. Does mental illness run in the family? When Carole starts hearing voices, she fears that she will meet the same fate as her mother, Solange: being locked away for decades in a mental institution. Carole shrinks from her family at the time when her daughter Alison needs her most: adolescence.

Overall, I thought this book was beautifully written, and the author handles the subject of mental illness realistically and with compassion. I was really drawn in by Part One of the story, focusing on Carole and Alison in 1972. With Carole’s point of view, the reader gets a strong sense of her fear and confusion as the disease takes hold of her mind.

I wasn’t as engaged in Part Two, which was Solange’s story of her marriage to Carole’s father. It’s a story of class, rich versus poor, and social injustice. The pacing was slower, and to me it felt a bit disjointed from the other part. Another POV came from Janine, Carole’s younger sister, who was an awful, unlikable character, and honestly her part didn’t do much to advance the story.

I wish there had been more magic or magical realism that the blurb alluded to, so the book was a bit different than what I was expecting. Still, it was a touching and heartbreaking story about how one family faced its history of mental illness.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

AMONG THE LESSER GODS by Margo Catts


Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★★


For fans of authors like Barbara Kingsolver and Leif Enger, a stunning new voice in contemporary literary fiction.

“Tragedy and blessing. Leave them alone long enough, and it gets real hard to tell them apart.”

Elena Alvarez is living a cursed life. From the deadly fire she accidentally set as a child, to her mother’s abandonment, and now to an unwanted pregnancy, she knows better than most that small actions can have terrible consequences. Driven to the high mountains surrounding Leadville, Colorado by her latest bad decision, she’s intent on putting off the future. Perhaps there she can just hide in her grandmother’s isolated cabin and wait for something—anything—to make her next choice for her.

Instead, she is confronted by reflections of her own troubles wherever she turns—the recent widower and his two children adrift in a changed world, Elena’s own mysterious family history, and the interwoven lives within the town itself. Bit by bit, Elena begins to question her understanding of cause and effect, reexamining the tragedies she’s held on to and the wounds she’s refused to let heal.

But when the children go missing, Elena’s fragile new peace is shattered. It’s only at the prospect of fresh loss and blame that she will discover the truth of the terrible burdens we take upon ourselves, the way tragedy and redemption are inevitably intertwined—and how curses can sometimes lead to blessings, however disguised.


AMONG THE LESSER GODS is a beautifully written novel and an impressive debut from Margo Catts. I found this book browsing Edelweiss a few weeks ago, and there was something about the synopsis that called out to me. I’m so glad I gave it a chance!

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the story is set in 1978. The protagonist Elena Alvarez is a young woman stuck in limbo for a few reasons. She’s a new college graduate with no job lined up; she’s faced with an unwanted pregnancy and what she should do about it; and most of all, she’s still burdened with guilt over a deadly fire she caused as a child. The perfect escape comes in the form of a summer job caring for two children in her grandmother’s hometown of Leadville, Colorado.

AMONG THE LESSER GODS is a compelling, multi-layered story of family secrets, self-forgiveness, and new beginnings. Elena’s experiences in the small mountain town will show her she’s not alone in her quest for redemption. The writing was lovely, and I especially enjoyed the vivid descriptions of Leadville and the surrounding mountains. I could easily picture myself there. The novel wraps up with an emotional resolution as secrets from the past come to the surface. Wonderful book!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.