The Taker by Alma Katsu

The Taker is a book about the uneveness of love between two people. How often there is one person in the partnership who loves all-consumingly, to the detriment of their self, and the life of their love object, whose love is an owning and jealous one.

Ostensibly set in a small town in modern Maine, the story is told to an ER doctor, Luke, whose failed marriage preps him to respond to a young woman brought into the ER by the police, suspected of murder.

He abandons his entire life and runs away with her, compelled by her disturbing and unbelievable story.

There is little I can discuss about Lanore, the young woman, without giving away parts of the mystery, and since uncovering the mysteries in this story; what Lanore is, how she got this way, what happened to her true love, Jonathan, it would be disservice to discuss it.

The mysteries, and the appalled fascination I felt discovering along with Luke the manipulative sexual and humiliating treatment Lanore was victim to, is what drew me along the story.

Unfortunately, I never really connected with Luke, or Lanore or Jonathan, although I wanted to be sympathetic to her. While the things that happened should have viscerally horrified me, I felt a little estranged from the narrative and from Lanore by the narrative conceit of the story, as well as a curious lack of emotional connection to Lanore I can’t really pinpoint the cause of.

The person that engaged me the most was Lanore’s tormentor, and the roots of his horrific behavior, while somewhat explained by his all-consuming desire for blind love, was never fully revealed to us in the story, and thus I was left without a basis for building my love/hate relationship with this mesmerizing character.

While definitely worth a read for people not turned off by unconsensual sexual relationships and dominance/submission issues, I was left at the end feeling somewhat unsatisfied by the emotional journey I followed reading this; it should have been epic and tormenting, and sometimes I was a bit bored.

This Book’s Food Designation Rating: A delectable looking Cioppino chock full of mussels and shrimp that end up being tough and gritty on your tongue and a bit bland.