Book Review: The Taker by Alma Katsu

The Taker is the debut novel from Alma Katsu. It was published by Century on 14th April and the book is 448 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

In the small town of St Andrews, Maine, A and E worker Luke thinks his shift will be like any other, with patients like any other night, drunks and misfits. When the police turn up with a strange woman who admits to killing someone, Luke realises that this night is going to be like no other. Lanore is also like no other woman he has ever met, she can do things that should be impossible.

Lanore has a strange past and while attempting to talk Luke into rescuing her from the police, she begins her story of how to came to be in A and E that night but Luke was far from prepared for what he is about to hear…

What I thought
First, let me start off by saying how beautiful the cover for this book is. The black background has red roses which have silver stems running down the sides and top of the front cover, as well as the back. Paired with the black edged pages, this makes for a book that immediately stands out next to anything else. If I had not been sent this for review, I would have been picking it up off the shelves to see what it is all about. Seriously eye catching!

I have to be honest and say that when I started reading this book, I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t quite understand where the story was heading, having already gotten through well over 100 pages. The narrative switches between the present and Lanore (Lanny) telling her story and how she came to be at the hospital. A large chunk of the book takes place in her home town but I wasn’t all that captivated. Yes, I could see that it was about to go somewhere eventually but it took its sweet time doing so. When the story really did get going though and some quite shocking things began to happen, my interest was captured.

Lanny was a quite likable character, even though I never really loved her. As she begins telling her story, we quickly find out that she is in love with a boy named Jonathan. So are the rest of the girls in her village though so she has a lot to compete with. At times, Lanny was a really sweet girl, even though naive at the same time. I loved the setting for the beginning of the story though as it was a time when girls were not how they are now and did exactly what their parents told them to do. A time when it was all about your family name and who you were going to marry and these were big issues for Lanny.

As for Jonathan, I didn’t think I had enough of a chance to get to know him. Being the love interest, I wanted to know everything there was to know about him but this wasn’t the case. I found his character to be quite mysterious in the sense that not that much is ever really said about him, apart from the fact that he is beautiful in the beginning of the book. I wish he had more of a presence throughout the story instead of being all about Lanny. I would have liked to have seen a bit more from both characters instead. The same goes for Luke, the doctor. He only really seems to appear as the story flits between past and present and I didn’t think he was needed in the story. I guess he was only there as a way for Lanny to be able to tell her story.

Even though it might sound like I hated this book, I didn’t at all. The story, while having some aspects shouldn't have been, due to the genre, was realistic. The way families are portrayed during the first part was fantastic and I loved getting a look into how people from another time and place lived, survived and evolved. The situations that Lanny got into and how she resolved them were great and I definitely didn’t see some of the twists coming, especially the ending. While the story was good, the characters let it down somewhat. I didn’t feel as though they packed enough of a punch and I wanted so much more from them.

That being said, I still think that this book will be a massive hit and that so many people are going to fall in love with it. Not for me but it has a lot of potential for other readers.


  1. Hi Lyndsey! Thank you for your review of the TAKER. I'm glad that you liked the story and the twists, even if the story wasn't exactly your cup of tea.

    If I might say a word about the characters Lanny and Jonathan -- you're right that they were products of the times in which they were born. I saw Lanny as a girl who was anxious to grow up, to become an adult and have an adult relationship, and for the time (like it or not), her adult identity depended on her choice of husband. Unfortunately for Lanny, she sets her cap on Jonathan, son of the wealthiest family in town. Like many beautiful people, Jonathan is somewhat passive, used to people throwing themselves at him, so he can pick and choose. He tries to be better than this with Lanny but fails, and this sets up the central question in the book: is Lanny at all justified in bringing him into this deal she's made with the devil?

    While I can see how these characters might be a bit maddening at times, I hope the premise is intriguing enough that some of your readers will give it a try. Again, thank you very much for the review and I'm so glad that you, too, liked the beautiful cover. Hopefully, this is a book you can judge by its cover.

  2. This is one that I am not sure would be for me either, but I do LOVE the cover.


  3. I am still intrigued by this book.


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