Review: The Taker and The Devil’s Scribe
“Review: The Taker and The Devil’s Scribe” originally appeared in Erika Robuck’s blog, MUSE, and is reprinted here with the author’s permission.
“Luke goes through the motions of examining the prisoner, but he can barely think for the strange pulsing in his head. He shines a penlight into her eyes–they are the palest blue eyes he’s ever seen, like two shards of compressed ice–to see if her pupils are dilated. Her skin is clammy to the touch, her pulse low and her breathing ragged.” (Alma Katsu, The Taker)
The Taker, by Alma Katsu, was published in 2011 and is 436 pages. I bought the book at a signing for the author at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA at the very high recommendation of the staff. I loved it, just as they thought I would.
The Taker is a multi-period novel. It begins in present-day Maine where emergency room physician, Dr. Luke Findley, is nodding his way through another night in his sleepy town, until the police bring in a young woman, Lanny McIlvrae, for evaluation. Lanny was found wandering on the side of the road in shock in the bitter cold, and confessed to murdering a man, whose body is now stored in the hospital morgue.
As Luke examines his patient, he finds himself immediately drawn to the sweet, slight young woman, and curious about what would lead her to commit such an act. As she beings telling him her impossible history, beginning in the same town in the nineteenth century, Luke feels everything he knows to be true slipping away.
Lanny tells him of her family, the boy she loved more than herself, and how a scandal led her to Boston and an abduction by immortal creatures who had long stopped caring for their souls. Led by the charming yet diabolically evil Count Adair cel Rau, Lanny becomes a slave, doomed for all eternity at the hands of the Count. Her own loving heart leads the man she loves into danger, and she must risk everything for a chance at redemption.
The Taker is the kind of book that is impossible to put down. From the first chapter, I was as spellbound by Lanny’s tales of treachery and pain as Luke, and I raced through each chapter, present and past, to find out more. Katsu is a master storyteller with perfect pacing and a knack for creating fascinating characters.
I was warned by the author that there were very difficult scenes to read, and I’m glad I was alerted to that fact. Sections of the novel were so dark and frightening they took my breath away, but I’m glad I kept reading. The climax and conclusion were satisfying, but left me wanting more, which is what all great fiction should do.
I’m pleased to say that I was able to indulge a bit more in the world of the The Taker because Katsu just published a novella feature Lanny in the 1800s in Baltimore called The Devil’s Scribe, where she meets Edgar Allan Poe and inspires one of his most memorable stories.
If you are a fan of Anne Rice’s vampire novels or True Blood, you will love the spellbinding, troubling, mesmerizing, and fascinating stories of The Taker and The Devil’s Scribe. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, The Reckoning, due out in June.
For more on Alma Katsu, visit her website at http://www.almakatsu.com/ .