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The Taker: Book One of the Taker Trilogy    by Alma Katsu order for
by Alma Katsu
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Dr. Luke Findley is expecting to spend a quiet night at the small Maine hospital where he works the midnight shift. That is, until the police bring in a mysterious woman covered in blood, whom they believe to have committed a heinous murder. Luke finds himself immediately drawn to Lanore McIlvrae, and within hours of treating her, helps her escape to Canada and then Europe. Now both of them are on the run, but Luke doesn't care. There's just something about Lanny that fascinates him, brings him back to life, after his messy divorce and what would have been a bleak future in the tiny town of St. Andrew.

It's while they’re laying low in Europe that Lanny tells Luke her life story, one that unbelievably spans centuries. She'd once been a resident of St. Andrew as well. Back then, it had been a tiny Puritan settlement out in the middle of the deep Maine woods. The citizens were beholden to the St. Andrew family, who supplied work through logging. In young Lanny's eyes, Jonathan St. Andrew was the most beautiful young man in the world. As children, they'd been fast friends, but once they'd outgrown their childhood, her parents warned her away from Jonathan, whose reputation as a womanizer was well known. Unfortunately, Lanny could not stay away from him, nor did Jonathan dissuade her, and ultimately their dalliances changed Lanny's life forever.

Part dark, obsessive love story, part dark fantasy, The Taker is a beautifully written and intense tale that flips effortlessly between points of view and time frames as Lanore narrates the shattering consequences of her unrequited for Jonathan; a love that turns to obsession and then takes an even more sinister turn once she is pulled into the world of a flamboyant alchemist named Adair who's found the secret to immortality. It's here that the alchemist seems to take over the story - a man who himself is a volatile mix of obsession, greed, and too often, sheer depravity.

This book isn't for everyone - it's dark, often brutal, and I found it hard to like any of the characters, despite the author's meticulous characterizations. Then again, obsessions, whether they are shaped because of love or a myriad other reasons, are generally never pretty.

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