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  • The Marsh King's Daughter

  • Written by: Karen Dionne
  • Narrated by: Emily Rankin
  • Length: 9 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (31 ratings)
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The Marsh King's Daughter

Written by: Karen Dionne
Narrated by: Emily Rankin
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Publisher's Summary

Praised by Lee Child and Karin Slaughter, and sure to thrill fans of The Girl on the Train and The Widow, The Marsh King's Daughter is mesmerizing psychological suspense, the story of a woman who must risk everything to hunt down the dangerous man who shaped her past and threatens to steal her future: her father.

At last, Helena Pelletier has the life she deserves. A loving husband, two beautiful daughters, a business that fills her days. Then she catches an emergency news announcement and realizes she was a fool to think she could ever leave her worst days behind her.

Helena has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. No electricity, no heat, no running water, not a single human beyond the three of them. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature - fishing, tracking, hunting. And despite her father's odd temperament and sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too...until she learned precisely how savage a person he could be.

More than 20 years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn't know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marshland he knows better than anyone else in the world. The police commence a manhunt, but Helena knows they don't stand a chance. Knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King - because only one person was ever trained by him: his daughter.

©2017 Karen Dionne (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"Narrator Emily Rankin's buttery voice smoothly delivers Dionne's psychological thriller.... The complicated tension between daughter and father, and wanting to know how she and her mother escaped the marsh years, keeps one listening." (AudioFile)

“Dionne’s breathtaking psychological thriller is a fairy tale writ large...the suspense in the plotting and the cold distance Helena’s voice projects [hold readers] entranced until the stunning climax.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“Exceptional.... Helena’s conflicting emotions about her father and her own identity elevate this powerful story.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) 

What listeners say about The Marsh King's Daughter

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Perfect For True Crime Lovers

A complex story about love, family, and the heavy cost it can bear, THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER is definitely a weighty book. It tells the story of a woman who was quite literally born in captivity to a man who, decades later, escapes from prison for revenge against her.

The premise hooked me immediately, but this is not a fast paced book. It's engaging and filled with dramatic, intense moments, but the majority of the plot centers around the main character as she continues to cope with the ramifications of her past and the role she played in her father's choices.

Helena is an interesting character. I'm not entirely sure if I would like her as a person, but I always understood her. Karen Dionne does an excellent job describing a situation that is far from black and white. While we all might have made different choices, it's impossible to deny that Helena was raised in isolation with a sociopathic father and terrified young mother.

There aren't many characters, so the author is able to explore each one fully and dive into a truly complex situation. I'm a fan of complicated family stories, and this gave me what I expected and more. While the pacing is slower than some other thrillers I've read, it's nonetheless compelling right until the very end.

A perfect book for anyone who enjoys true crime, THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER is a compelling book that is not to be missed!

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Keeps an interest

This kept my interest but the reader had to be played at 1.2 she draws out every word f-o-r-e-v-e-r

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Not my cup of tea

This wasn’t my best audio book... mediocre. I found some of the story gross. The narrator was so-so

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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intriguing and emotional

I quite enjoyed this novel. well written, and we'll performed. The story line flows well and the end is satisfying. #Audible1

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  • Cayce
  • 2017-06-16

I wanted to like this...

I wanted to like this book. The blurb sounded great and the mention of Karin Slaughter and Lee Child made me think it was going to be a thriller. So maybe expectation was partly to blame for my lukewarm response.

This book is slow and filled with detail about living in the wild in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The writer is good and if you like detail filled fiction or stories about living in nature and how to survive with your hands and makeshift tools, then you will likely enjoy this book. But I play books in the background while I edit photos and I need them to move more quickly than this.

I'm also not sure the narrator did this book any favors. The woman's voice is innocent sounding with a slight singsongy quality. It really grated on my nerves after awhile. The long descriptions of hunting and killing the animals and how wonderful she thought her father was went on way too long for me.

It's possible this book picks up in the second half, but I couldn't get that far. Check out the sample and make sure the narration doesn't drive you nuts.

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31 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • shelley
  • 2020-12-15

Informative and Entertaining....

I really enjoyed The Marsh King’s Daughter. This is the only book I’ve ever listened to by Karen Dionne but will definitely be looking at previous books and keeping a watch out for future books. I’ve noticed in some of the other reviews that people have complained about the amount of detail given. This book jumps forward and back in the protagonist’s (Helena Pelletier) life from birth to 12 years old and then her life from the age of 12 through the present. It’s her pre 12 year old life that is so detailed and captivating. .................
Helena’s mother had been kidnapped as a teenager and raped. Helena was born when her mother was 17 years old. Although she didn’t know, they were kept in captivity. Her father was Native American and taught her how to live on the land. He taught her how to hunt and to field dress her kills. He also taught her how to tan the hides. These are things I never think about in my life. I found the whole concept informative and very interesting. Not a life style I would choose but then Helena’s mother didn’t choose it either. .................
With the kidnappings of women held in captivity for years this book is completely plausible. The few characters are totally believable. .............,... Emily Rankin does a fantastic job narrating. ................. This book has my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION. ................. If you found this review helpful please indicate so. ................. Thank You.

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29 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sign Maker Shan
  • 2018-05-23

Newberry

I'm in my garage painting. Black flies buzzing and biting while I try to finish the sign that I am making. I live in Newberry and think back to the way Karen Dionne described the bug hatch in spring. Everything is dead on. I finished this book while those flying monsters were invading my space. It made it seem like I was there. I love this book. I got it because I had just finished the Jack Reacher series and it was recommended by Lee Child. I didn't even know that the tiny town that I live in was in the book. Even if it wasn't, I would still love this book. She has a beautiful way with words.

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16 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • smccoy
  • 2017-07-18

Disappointment

I didn't enjoy this audio book. The narrator was good, but I hated the characters. All of them. Could find no sympathy for the daughter or father's behavior. The mother was only one I could muster any sympathy for. Ridiculous amount of description and detail. If you don't mind slow, plodding and depressing stories, this one might be for you. What a bummer.

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7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ruth Lambert
  • 2017-11-05

Details of place, time and feeling make this thriller uniquely captivating.

A young woman, married with 2 daughters, narrates the violent and complicated story of her mother's abduction as a teen, and her imprisonment by her captor for over 14 years.
That Helena is aware of her conception and birth as a horrible form of abuse makes the narration -- quiet and introspective until the extraordinary end -- all the more chilling. The intense and clear descriptions of the Upper Peninsula of Minnesota and Hekena's development from infant to young child to young adult within the bizarre net of her parents' relationship is compelling. Highly recommended for solid writing, superior characterizations and a melancholy echo that continued long after I finished this very good book.

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6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • donna
  • 2017-11-04

Not at all what I had expected,,,better

i was #27 on the wait list at the library, so I decided to buy this one. Good choice: the story, the graphic details without being too graphic, the reality of the inspirational story, and a fine narrator made a dreaded, cram-for-2 weeks-to-get-it-done-before-book club experience so enjoyable. Thank you audible for the opportunity.
However, still too expensive for my budget. sorry.

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5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • lora hasse
  • 2017-09-03

Amazing

This book was a thrill ride told by an excellent storyteller. It is at points sad, and shows the resilience of the human spirit. I loved it. One of those books that you sigh and just take a moment of silence when it is finished to let the brilliance just sink in.

The narration was perfect as well.

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5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nena
  • 2018-12-11

Incredible journey

An absolute knuckle biting story. I was both happy and sad for the story to end.

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4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrea Strickland
  • 2017-07-06

I should have loved it...

The Marsh King's Daughter has all of the elements for a favorite for me......unique story, interesting characters, unusual setting, and suspense. But it just didn't grab me. I liked it, but really didn't love it. I just didn't feel connected to any of the characters and wasn't terribly interested in the outcome of the story.

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4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Susan
  • 2017-06-19

Shallow characters; unbelievable ending.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The author needed to work harder at deepening the characters' motivations and the credibility of their actions.

What was most disappointing about Karen Dionne’s story?

Why mix so many story traditions? Frankly, the Hans Christian Andersen tale was only weakly linked to the plot and the father seemed a sociopath caricature.

What does Emily Rankin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Some of the young woman's marsh experiences were very engaging. The author clearly has experience making jams.

Was The Marsh King's Daughter worth the listening time?

So-so. The high ratings gave me expectations of a quality thriller, but I found the weak dialogue, characterization, and plot much below writers like Tana French, A lot of reviewers also pointed out many weaknesses in this book.

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4 people found this helpful