Just finished reading The Reckoning by Alma Katsu which continues the story of unrequited loved started in The Taker. Once again we are taken into Lanore’s world and given a taste of the immortal life she leads. I really enjoyed this book. As with the first book we have a subtle mix of the modern and the historic. The voice of Lanore is once again compelling and I must admit that I found myself liking her much more in this novel than in the first. I also really enjoy Katsu’s writing style. Her writing flows easily and appears to be effortless, which I’m quite sure isn’t the case.
At the start of this novel we immediately pick up with Lanore and Luke as they enjoy an evening out – only to be spoiled as Lanny is suddenly overcome with the absolute conviction that Adair is free! I’m not giving anything away by that little revellation as it is already mentioned on the jacket. Unfortunately in writing this review it will of course immediately give away spoilers for book one and to be honest I would advise anybody who wants to read this story to pick up The Taker first. So, don’t read on if you don’t want spoilers!
In this novel Adair manages to escape his incarceration and is hellbent on revenge. Revenge on the two people who entombed him after he had given them the gift of immortality, Jonathan and Lanny, but more so Lanny who he had also bestowed his love upon (albeit one of a bit of a twisted variety). Now we start a dance of sorts as Lanny and Adair try to outwit each other not helped in Adair’s case by having missed over 200 yearsof development which he now has to become familiar with. We once again come face to face with some of the other immortals who have over the years split apart and spread out in the world to lead lives without the tyranny of their former leader. As with the first novel we get to look back at past events, which I found really interesting and entertaining. We spend some more time with Adair and get to take a look at his earlier years and we get to travel back and look at some more of Lanny’s story once she became free of the tyranny of Adair.
I think that this novel definitely added more to the characters involved. Lanny showed a more compassionate side – putting other’s feelings before her own but the most surprising change is in the form of Adair (nothing more on that though). He really is quite a despicable character, in fact he’s brilliant in his cruel and arrogant behaviour. Don’t get me wrong, I can see he’s not very nice but I like reading a well formed bad sort of character.
We get a little bit more insight into the beginnings of the magic that helps to make the immortals. We explore the early start and we also delve a little bit into life after death.
What I was surprised about is that this is one of the few books about immortals where the grass doesn’t necessarily look greener on the other side of the fence. It’s not the sort of book that makes you think ‘what if’ or make you want to recreate and drink that sludgy looking portion to give you the secret of longevity. Things are definitely not as rosy as they seem when you get to live this long. You don’t have the opportunity to be a real part of a family, to have your own name, to watch your children growing older or to form any really meaningful friendships. Basically it’s a fairly lonely and secretive existence spent running from place to place to avoid recognition or unanswerable questions. Also, the characters that Adair chose to embrace, were all damaged in some respect due to their prior history and being immortal doesn’t improve that fact, they have years and years to dwell on their own errors and dream of redemption.
The only criticism I would level would be that although we visit a lot of different places in this story I don’t feel that any of them were particularly well drawn. If not for the headings at the start of various chapters telling you ‘Paris’ or ‘London’ , etc, I’m not sure that it would have been noticable. But, having said that I imagine the author was trying not to go into overly lengthy descriptions which would have bulked the book out and also distracted from the tale as it unfolds.
All in all a very enjoyable read. The only drawback is the long wait for the final instalment!
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.