Sunday, December 11, 2011

What's In A Word

There are descriptive words for so many things that we'd never even think of, like petrichor, which is the smell of rain on dry ground, or brontide, the low rumbling of distant thunder. But I've been unable to find a word that describes the feeling of living inside a book one is reading, that the book's life is carried on even when the covers are closed. Maybe someday I'll invent one.

Word or not, that was definitely the feeling I had when reading The Taker, the first novel by the amazingly skilled Alma Katsu. It has only taken me a couple of days to complete, but I know I will read it again – I did Ms. Katsu an injustice by rushing through some parts to find out what was going to happen next. Any time I was not reading, a part of my mind was imagining the story's progression.

The book employs foreshadowing to tell the story of Lanore, or Lanny, through many and varied stages of her life. I'm not really fond of this writing style, but it was done with excellence in The Taker. I found myself longing to get back to the flashback portions of the story, hurrying through the present day chapters, although both were crucial to comprehending Lanny's life. There are sections of poverty and deprivation, of glamor and wealth, of love won and love lost. All this is done with the elegance and grace of language that is such a delight to find in a book today.

I am not a reader who tries to figure out what is going to happen next, preferring to live in suspension of disbelief as much as possible (and that was pretty much the whole time in this book). There were things that happened that were somewhat predictable, but there were several passages that took me completely by surprise. This is crucial for me in a great book, and it was carried out up to the last sentence.

Although it is quite different, there were aspects of The Taker that reminded me of Mistress of the Art of Death, possibly because the historical era passages caught me up so completely in both books.

The title of a book is usually not the first thing that attracts me, but once I've started reading, I have an awareness of attempting to forge the link between the author's title and the story being told. Several times in my reading of The Taker, I was sure I had found the author's intention, only to find it in a different way as I continued to read. Upon reflection, there are several plausible interpretations; be sure to see which one you think is it.

I predict you'll love this book. You'll get times past as well as the world today. You'll get the real world and the supernatural, although it is completely erroneous to compare The Taker to any of today's popular supernatural tales. You'll get full-bodied, rich, three-dimensional characters who will grab your attention and carry you through the pages.

Although I am an avid reader, I honestly think that I could possess a small bookshelf with a limited number of books that I would delight in reading over and over. The Taker would be on the top shelf, without a doubt. This is an amazing first novel by a highly skilled author, and I eagerly await her next book – may there be many yet to come!


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About Me

Orlando, Florida, United States
"If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you...I came to live out loud. [Emile Zola.]
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