The Marsh Kings Daughter- The story of a little shadow
An international bestseller, a thriller, and to quote Lee Child “Sensationally good psychological suspense”. “The Marsh King's Daughter” written by Karen Dionne was my solace during a rough patch in my life. My father passed away May 3rd, 2018 and during a 14-hour delay in Albuquerque, New Mexico at 7:30 PM the small news and snack stands pull their curtains and set up for the night shift. I found all three of the books I brought to bore me and I needed something else. I sift through the options in the sale bin filled with broken spines and random pages, and with no luck I move to the wall and find the image of a rainy window with a small glimpse of blonde hair of, what seems to be, a young girl running away. Picked it up, skimmed the first three pages and fell into the story.
Told from the perspective of a forgotten child-celebrity, she is the lovechild of the rape and abduction of her uncomfortably young mother. Told alongside narrative from Hans Christian Andersen famous fairy tale “The Marsh King's Daughter" very unique way to set up the theme to each chapter. Her father is a thorough bread Native American, his tribal blood ran deep from his mental process and beliefs right down to his build and looks. Helena Pelletier is a married mother of two, a decent jam and jelly maker, who can’t escape the worst part of her identity, her father. A man who kidnapped her mother only to hide her away from society for fourteen years and constantly raped and beat her. A couple years into the torment came Helena. A young blank canvas for which her father would create his masterpiece, and the key to his demise.
The course of the book is flashbacks of Helena's life and how her father groomed her to the image he desired. The man, a narcissist, molding the small world he created into his perfect image. She tells her life story through flashbacks triggered by the recent fact her father has murdered multiple people and escaped from prison. She fears for the safety of her family and is fueled with anger and love, torn by the admiration her father breed into her and her conscious. The theme of the story shines through as the idea that there is no real hunter or prey, simply there is a cycle of which all must fall into. Yet, through this idea, the begging hunter, her father (Jacob), creates an illusion of love and loyalty to mask the manipulation and selfishness that were his true intentions. Essentially, by creating this perfect idea of a family and raising a child Jacob set himself up for failure, and the end to his tyranny is his “Bangii-Agawaateyaa” (Little Shadow) and ending with the final hunter, Helena. He created the weapon that would eventually defeat him.
The overall take away for me personally is how the ideas and beliefs of the Native Americans seem to always have a similar message to the idea of peace amongst nature as those who want to save the earth in the modern day. There is a cycle of life and neither science nor religion can change that. I also felt the emphasis on the relationship between a father and daughter was interesting, the relationship Helena shares with Jacob is one typically between a father and son, hunting, fishing, tracking, outdoors activities. Yet it is Helena who is the chink in Jacob's armor.
While the climb to the peak of the story was memorable and vivid I felt the book ended abruptly. I personally, enjoy the two to three chapters after the climax where ALL loose ends are tied nice and neatly. I felt there was more to tell. But I enjoyed the journey and the surprisingly very useful camping basics I can adapt to my own outdoor adventures.
A good read would and would recommend for any looking for a compelling psychological thriller suspense.