Something went wrong. Please try your request again later. Hard to put down, not recommended reading after dark. Combines meticulous historical research and a keen understanding of human nature with a monstrous original metaphor to reimagine the ill-fated Donner Party

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Now, more than three months later, I have accumulated enough emotional distance to deal with the story again. It should go without saying that I would never discourage a teen from picking up books from those shelves.

I would say: Read what you want to, but know what it is you are wanting. And that is why I am sitting here to elaborate. The Taker could be called a gloomy thriller, dark historic fiction or a book about alchemy and magic. But furthermost, as the title hazily suggests, in its core The Taker is a frightening study of obsession in different ugly forms.

The story is arranged in three chronological, but interwoven layers told from three points of view. The most recent layer shows us middle-aged, jaded small-town surgeon Dr. Luke Finley, who is divorced, lonely and extremely weary of his future in the unfriendly town St.

Andrews, Maine. When a beautiful murderess is brought in by the Sheriff for the medical check-up that has to precede her police interrogation, he immediately falls so hard for the young girl and her weird explanations of being immortal and having done her companion a favor by ending his much too long life, that he risks everything to help her flee across the border in a "borrowed" car and becomes an accomplice without even looking back. In the course of the middle layer killer Lanore McIlvrae tells Luke the story of her youth in a partly Puritan, party Catholic wood-cutting settlement in Main around and of her fateful move to Boston at the age of All her life she had — like all the other girls and women in her village — been feverishly craving the undivided attention of rich and otherworldly beautiful Jonathan St.

Andrews, who graciously admitted her to become his friend-like confidant, but who was too obsessed with himself and his unstillable sexual needs to bestow any kind of affection on her her or one of his uncountable married and unmarried bed-partners. No means to gain possession of Jonathan had been to dangerous, too evil or to stupid for Lanore, but eventually her parents had to send her to a Catholic convent in Boston to birth and hand over her out-of-wedlock offspring.

In fact, her fascination with him began even before her life was out of the danger zone: "Despite my illness [she refers to her shredded intestines and her miscarriage] , he had me that evening and I let him, surrendered to the thrill of his weight over me.

The deepest layer of the three-tiered story narrates the misery of his 14th-century youth in a third-person-point-of-view: His father, a Romanian nomad, sold his teenage son to a creepy, old alchemist employed by an entertainment-crazy Hungarian Count.

Along with sympathetic Lanore the reader learns a lot about his complete loss of freedom, his utter loneliness, his purely sexual relationship with the physically and mentally disabled maid, his quiet hate for his unspeakably brutal, immortality-seeking master and his step-by-step foray into satisfying his sexual urges by sleeping with the mutilated corpses of village wenches, who his master regularly raped to death in his private dungeon and had him bury in the forest afterwards.

Yes, there is a lot of sex in The Taker. But, as already stated, the book is no paranormal romance and does not promote love. There are hiked-up petticoats in dirty barns, iron chains and primal screams in mouldy underground chambers, bruises and mortally wounded vital organs, there are forced threesomes and frantic, unexpected couplings in motel rooms. Although I can safely say that the romance-novel-style-overdose of sexual visuals is more often than not something I could do without, I would gladly exchange the corpse-groping and all the loveless abuse for some mushy minute-details-narration of how Lord X expertly leads Lady Y to her first orgasm ever.

Honestly, I abhorred every single sexual encounter in The Taker , but I guess others might not. But what appalled and enraged me the most is the description of rape victims getting unwillingly aroused while being sexually abused and beaten to pulp.

Another thing that stood between me and the ability to enjoy the book were the characters themselves. I did not remotely like any of them. I despised Lanore and her parents, Jonathan, Adair and his minions and certainly the alchemist, but I also did not get Luke, his unhealthy, illogical fascination with selfish Lanore, and his willingness to overlook that she is using him for her means in a very calculated way.

I even contemplated giving up during the first third of the book. But both hints turned into dead ends without a later explanation or apology. Dangerous things Luke and Lanore remain unaware of. So you close the book with a lot of unease in your guts although you might not feel the urge to pick up the sequel. Do you like that? Yet, I should not hide that although I easily anticipated most of the important plot mysteries, I think that the story-within-story-within-story structure has been well-planned and well-executed, that both historical eras seem to haven been well-researched and intricately depicted, that the writing shows talent and promise indeed.


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