The Taker by Alma Katsu
Just finished reading The Taker by Alma Katsu. I enjoyed this story even though it actually wasn’t what I’d originally thought it would be.
The Taker is portrayed as a love story blending paranormal and history. I would start by saying that I’m not sure that I would describe this story as an immortal love story. It’s certainly a story about immortals but by describing it as a love story it gives you a certain expectation which I’m not sure is entirely true. Personally, I would describe this as an immortal story of unrequited love. A tale of obsession that reaches across the ages.
The story starts with Dr Luke Findley beginning his shift at the hospital where he lives in St Andrews, Maine. Basicially Luke is not entirely happy with his lot in life. He’s a doctor in a town where he doesn’t wish to live. His family obligations have brought him back there and now he feels trapped. His wife has left him taking his children and with his mother recently deceased he has very little to keep him in this small backtown and yet here he remains. Until Lanore McIlvrae comes into his life. Lanore, or Lanny, is brought into the hospital by the police as a potential murder suspect. She’s brought in for examination by Dr Luke Findley who is going to become more deeply involved than he could have imagined when he set off for his shift that evening.
And, so we begin with Lanny’s story which spans back over the course of 200 years (in fact it goes much further back than that when we start to learn the story of one of the other characters from the story).
Firstly, the characters. They’re an odd bunch. We have Lanore. Goodness knows she doesn’t always make the best decisions. She can certainly be very selfish and cruel but she is aware of these shortcomings in herself. I’m not sure at this point whether I exactly like Lanny which is a strange position to be in after reading her story and I’m not altogether sure I trust her either. What I do enjoy about Lanny is how she relates her story. Her voice. Which is really quite compelling. I found myself totally gripped to the story whenever we found ourselves going back in time and probably could probably have done without the more modern day elements completely. The historical elements are fascinating to read about. The details about the lives, firstly when Lanny lives in Maine and then when she goes to Boston are really well written and interesting to read about. You certainly spend a lot of time with Lanny so in that respect she has plenty of character. What I struggled to come to terms with is why she was so obsessed with Jonathon. Jonathon is the son of the town’s benefactor. He is perfect in all respects. Absolutely gorgeous to behold, rich, intelligent and his full life is mapped out. He is far and above Lanny in his station in life and without her practically throwing herself at his feet would never have noticed her at all. However Jonathon is lonely, he has no friends and Lanny becomes his companion – platonic of course. Jonathon is only really briefly sketched as far as I’m concerned. He’s a total philanderer and basically seems to have sexual relationships with all the females in town – not helped of course by the fact that most of the women are so overcome with desire for him on account of his good looks that they simply throw themselves at his head. The problem I have is that Lanny is obsessed with this guy for 200 years and yet apart from his good looks we have very little other reason to see why. He also, isn’t the most likable character. He’s quite weak at the start of the novel and appears to go through life with a very bored and abject expression. I wouldn’t say I disliked him – just that I feel perfectly indifferent towards him and so apart from the fact that Lanny can’t have him – what exactly is the attraction that it remains so strong for that length of time. I guess basically it seems a little bit fickle. Yes, you may be attracted to a person’s looks initially but after that there has to be more? Anyway, I digress!
We are then introduced to the character of Adair – and what a perfectly horrible little monster he is surrounded by his little crew of vipers – of which he is soon to make Lanny a member of. We now take a further step back in time to hear Adair’s tale – which is really quite dark and twisted. This certainly isn’t a YA book although maybe it would cross over for the older element – that being said, there are a few elements that are rather brutal, not gratuitously so but the back stories include rape, beatings and elements of torture. The thing with Adair is we are given a much greater insight into his character which makes him much more real. Perhaps this is because Adair is set to play a much bigger role in the next novel?
We also, of course have the character of Luke. Again, Luke, feeling so/so about him. Apart from his obvious unhappiness with life in general we don’t get a good feel for him really and clearly he’s there as a means by which Lanny can relate her story.
I don’t really want to elaborate further on the plot as I don’t want to give away spoilers and although it seems as though I’ve been quite critical above I think it’s almost in a good way. Just that I had lots of ‘what if’s or ‘what’ moments! This is a story about immortals – we are given some background into this and the end reveals a twist that I hadn’t anticipated.
Basically, in spite of the observations about the characters, I thought this was a really good story. I’ve never read Interview with a Vampire but have seen the film and for me this has a definite flavour of that type of story. I can’t say whether it read like Anne Rice but maybe others will have a better idea of that.
I’m hoping that with the developments at the end maybe Lanny will become a changed individual in the next instalment? Anyway, time will tell and I look forward to picking up number 2.
I think that if you want a good historical/paranormal read then this may be for you. It’s not always the most gentle read but it is definitely compelling. Plus, the other thing that I do really like about this book is that although this is a trilogy there isn’t a cliff hanger ending and you could actually stop reading at this point.