The Marsh King’s Daughter -a life in isolation with a kidnapper

October 23, 2017
the marsh kings daughter

About the Book

Karen Dionne wrote The Marsh King’s Daughter about just that -the Marsh King and his daughter, Helena. The twist is that the Marsh King is a sadistic kidnapper who took Helena’s mother to live in isolation in the marshland of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena was then born and spent her childhood in the marshland being raised by a dangerous criminal and his victim.

The narrative weaves between Helena’s childhood in the marsh and her present, as she discovers her father has escaped from a maximum security prison. Now an adult, Helena leaves her husband and young children vulnerable and confused as she pursues her father back into the marshland she was raised on.

But of course my father always had a sadistic side. I doubt that thirteen years in a maximum security prison have improved his disposition.

We’re supplying you with all the thrills you need this October with our Thriller as a Book Genre series. Check out last week’s skin-crawling thriller, The Grownup, a fast read (less than 80 pages!) with a big twist at the end. Or, go back to see what else we reviewed this spooky October.

Why You’ll Like It


The plot takes turns with making the reader sweat. The suspense is twofold -the reader is constantly eager to find out how Helena ended up escaping the marsh, and Helena is constantly in danger as she hunts down her father.

Miniature stories of Helena’s upbringing supplement these main elements and these, alone, could drive the plot of an entire Criminal Minds episode.

the marsh king's daughter



Some of the most important parts of the book come from Helena’s introspection. As an adult, she has seemingly come to terms with how she spent her childhood. Yet, there is a swelling tension surrounding any unfinished business in the marsh. This ranges from Helena’s unfamiliarity with technology and social cues to her struggle to separate her reverence for her father from his sadistic nature.

Attention to Detail

Dionne creates vivid pictures of her protagonist’s upbringing in the marsh. It is clear that Helena is an authority on what’s what in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from her knowledge of all things nature.

Helena has an intimate knowledge of the nature that surrounds us and Dionne channels that knowledge into a unique take on the world. This makes Helena a well-rounded character and gives the reader little Easter Eggs of information about the marshland in the United States’ northern border.

We also think Helena is a serious badass and gives off major Red Hot Chili Peppers vibes – The Getaway-style.

helena alla red hot chili peppers

Our Critique of The Marsh King’s Daughter

Where the story falls short in the multiple places that Helena and her father’s skills seem blown out of proportion. While the Marsh King has generations of Native American knowledge of the land and legends, Helena was raised on the land and the land alone -which seems to give her an advantage throughout the story.

Because of this, Dionne constantly has to handicap either Helena or her father to make the cat-and-mouse chase work, and sometimes this seems unrealistic.

The whistle I’ve trained my dog to answer won’t fool a chickadee, but if my father is within hearing distance, the fact that it’s been thirteen years since he’s heard a chickadee whistle should work in my favor.

We know you’ll love The Marsh King’s Daughter –grab a copy from your local bookstore here!

Do you like physiological thrillers like Criminal Minds and The Silence of the Lambs? Why… or not?


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