The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne #BookReview #Thriller #AlltheUnicorns

marshkingTitle: The Marsh King’s Daughter
Author: Karen Dionne
Series: n/a
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: 
June 13th 2017 by Sphere
Genre(s): Thriller
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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The suspense thriller of the year – The Marsh King’s Daughter will captivate you from the start and chill you to the bone.

‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

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.

Review

Yes. Just all the yes! It’s been a really long time since I stayed up wayyyy too late because I couldn’t put a book down, but this one forced me too.

The Marsh King’s Daughter is a fast-paced, thrilling, creepy, empowering, brilliant story about a girl who was brought up in the wilderness, taught to hunt and track by her unpredictable father (at a very young age), and who never met another single person other than her father and her parents until she was 12 years old.

She didn’t know it, but Helena was her father’s prisoner, just like her mother was.

Helena, now happily married with two little girls, has made a nice life for herself, but it came at a price. She became a new person and never told anyone who her father is. She wasn’t able to visit him in prison even though sometimes she wanted to.

When she hears on the news that he has escaped from the maximum security prison he was being held, killing two men, Helena is in no doubt that he’ll come for her and her girls, but luckily for her The Marsh King taught her everything he knew.

I loved so much about this story. Helena took to the wild life from an early age. She loved hunting, tracking, shooting, killing. She was a prisoner but she didn’t know it, and ironically the marsh offered her a freedom normal children will never experience. She had many happy times and she often idolised her Native American father. But she also feared him, and knew that his relationship with her mother was strange.

I found it really interesting how Helena viewed her mother. They hadn’t bonded and she wondered if she loved her. She didn’t understand why her mum was so weak and not present. The thought of staying in the cabin and making jam with her mum made her skin crawl. Her mum’s story is the truly harrowing element of this novel.

The whole way through I wondered if Helena’s mum had made the decision to not tell her about the situation out of fear, or because she wanted her to have some normality in her childhood. I wanted to know if she’d ever tried to escape, and if not, why not, but I think it was a much better story not knowing that as we only see through the eyes of Helena – which I thought was really powerful.

The Marsh King’s Daughter was great from the beginning but the second half of the book was outstanding, I really could not put it down. I needed to know if Helena and her lovely family would be OK; what she would say to her father when she saw him; If she could survive once more? I think she has to be one of my favourite protagonists of recent years, and I know her story will stay with me for a long, long time.

unicorn rating

 

Frostfire by Amanda Hocking

frostfire
Title: Frostfire
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: The Kanin Chronicles #1
Edition: Kindle, 300 pages
Publication Details: January 1st 2015 by Tor UK
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

Goodreads // Purchase

Bryn Aven is an outcast among the Kanin, the most powerful of the troll tribes.

Set apart by her heritage and her past, Bryn is a tracker who’s determined to become a respected part of her world. She has just one goal: become a member of the elite King’s Guard to protect the royal family. She’s not going to let anything stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss Ridley Dresden.

But all her plans for the future are put on hold when Konstantin– a fallen hero she once loved – begins kidnapping changelings. Bryn is sent in to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

Review


I’m pretty dubious about starting new series these days because I’m so bloody rubbish at keeping up or finishing them. To be honest, I only bought this one because I was approved for a copy of book two on Netgalley, which I requested based solely on the cover alone. They’re very pretty!

Frostfire was my first foray into Hocking’s world of the Trylle, well, it was my foray into Amanda Hocking’s work full stop, and I was impressed with some elements, but disappointed with others.

Bryn is a tracker whose job it is to track down changelings and bring them back to the Kanin tribes. Her lifelong dream is to be promoted into the royal guard and therefore feels like she has a lot to prove, and tries to do everything to the best of her ability.

However, certain things keep getting in her way. Firstly, her growing attraction to Ridley her boss, and then there’s her mixed feelings for Konstantin who she used to have a major crush on until he attacked her father. Now Konstantin has started kidnapping changelings, but even though it appears obvious that he is the source of all that’s going on, Bryn isn’t so sure. Are old feelings resurfacing and impairing her judgement, or is there more to Konstantin and the kidnappings than everyone believes?

Either way, unless Bryn can find the missing changelings or prove that she’s right about Konstantin, any hopes of her dream job, or her people’s faith in her are in jeopardy.

I’m really torn with this book. On one hand, I think Hocking did a good job of bringing this world that was completely new to me (trolls!) to life, but on the other I felt like there was a bit too much telling rather than showing. I was having to learn too much in too short a time. As a result, I found the pace quite slow and was hankering for less talk and more action.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of there being two potential love interests. I’ve read that Hocking’s books are quite love-triangle-heavy but that she claimed that there wouldn’t be one in Frostfire. Well, there pretty much is! Bryn and Ridley’s relationship is quite cute and had potential, but it’s obvious throughout that if Konstantin and Bryn got it on instead it would be hawwwwwt. That’s clearly the direction it’s going in, non?

Other the than pacing issues, I enjoyed Hocking’s writing a lot. I didn’t particularly think much of the troll element, as they didn’t seem to resemble what I thought of as trolls, but I kind of liked that. It’s a whole new mythology to me and I’m interested to see where it goes.

As a stand alone, Frostfire doesn’t work at all, but if you think of it as an introduction, it has potential. I look forward to finding out if it can live up to it.

unicorn rating 3

Frostfire is available now, and book #2, Ice Kissed, is released May 5th

Frighteningly Festive: Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen

dying2
Title: Dying For Christmas
Author: Tammy Cohen
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 274 pages
Publication Details: November 20th 2014 by Transworld Digital
Genre(s): Thriller, Crime
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
Purchase.

I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out …

…But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?

Review

This was my first read of Tammy Cohen, who has also published books under her full name Tamar Cohen. The name stood out to me and I only realised after finishing the book that she teaches at the local university here. How weird is that?

Anyway, Dying For Christmas is a psychological thriller/Crime drama with more twists and turns than Alton Towers. And to carry on the theme park analogy, my enjoyment of it rollercoastered a lot too.

The story is told in two halves, the first detailing Jessica Gold’s kidnapping and captivity, and the second following the case after her release.

This is one of those books that is difficult to discuss without giving away spoilers and ruining the enjoyment for others, so forgive me for not going into detail here. What I can say though, is that Dying for Christmas was a quick, enjoyable read but not without its flaws.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the constant switching of perspective from Jessica and Kim, the detective leading the investigation into Jessica’s disappearance. I found myself skipping the parts about Kim and the strain her job is putting on her home life – I didn’t warm to her for some reason, and didn’t really care what was happening outside of the investigation.

I also didn’t like how cynical Kim was about the disappearance. All of the evidence suggests that the kidnapper is psychotic, but all of a sudden Kim seems to have doubts after obsessing over finding her. It didn’t ring true to me.

All of that aside, this book was full of twists and turns which makes a great read, even if I did feel a little cheated in a way. I never knew what to expect and the surprises kept on coming right through to the end. Dying for Christmas is not your average festive read, but certainly an interesting and clever one.

unicorn rating 3

Dying for Christmas is available in paperback now from Waterstones. Click here for details of 30% off!