It isn't easy to describe or categorize The Taker by Alma Katsu. It is a dark tale with gothic elements. It is a love story featuring twisted notions of love and plenty of jealousy. It is also a historical novel, spanning more than 200 years in the life of the main character, Lanore or Lanny. It may not be easy to describe The Taker in terms of genre, but I can say that this was an enticing read from beginning to end, and forces the reader to answer how far is too far when it comes to love?
The story begins in present time with Lanny taken into a hospital for evaluation after admitting to killing a man in the woods. Dr. Luke Findley isn't quite sure what is going on with this young woman, but he is quickly beguiled by her tale. Lanny begins to tell Luke about her life in the town of St. Andrews, a life that began more than 200 years earlier. Her story tells of the hard life experienced by her family in the wilds of Maine in the early 1800s, as well as her friendship and then affair with Jonathan St. Andrews, scion of the St. Andrews family, founders of the town. Lanny's tale moves to Boston, where she encounters Adair and his entourage.
Lanny's tale is not light and happy but filled with pain, dark and twisted desires, love and jealousy, as well as alchemy and magic. Lanny has become immortal at the hands of Adair and also suffers untold horrors at his hands. She is also exposed to culture and beauty that she had never dreamed possible. Unfortunately her abiding love (or possibly obsession) for Jonathan, as well as her description of his physical beauty and attraction, results in Adair's desire to meet this object of beauty and desire. Lanny does return to St. Andrews but finds that she no longer fits in with her family and worse, Jonathan doesn't want to leave his little fiefdom. Tragedy lends a hand and circumstances force Jonathan to leave Maine for Boston, where Lanny is forced to share Jonathan with Adair and others.
Love is supposed to be a give and take relationship. Ms. Katsu goes further and describes a love relationship as having a giver and a taker. The question arises as to who is really the giver and who is the taker in this tale? Lanny is far from perfect and must learn to deal with the repercussions of her decisions, decisions that have spanned 200 years and adversely affected many lives. I don't think her story would be so interesting if it were all sweetness and light. It is the darkness, the jealousies, and her willingness to do pretty much anything for love that made The Taker such a wonderful read. Look for this hauntingly beautiful love story to be released on September 6, 2011.
Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from through Simon & Schuster Galley Grab. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."