Friday, October 26, 2012

The Reckoning

by Alma Katsu

This is Book Two of the Taker Trilogy, and as most middle books of trilogies, I wasn’t that enamored of it. Of course the middle book of a trilogy has a very hard job to do.  It must wrap up the cliff hanger of the first book and move the plot along a little before leaving us with another cliff hanger for the last book.   I was trying to think of any middle books of trilogies that I really enjoyed and couldn’t come up with any.  The Lord of the Rings came to mind but that was written as a single book by Tolkien and subsequently chopped up by publishers.  So suffice it to say I am not a big fan of trilogies. 

Nevertheless, it did its job as a middle book and as I really enjoyed the first book in the trilogy, The Taker, I will doubtlessly keep reading with Book Three, the Descent when it comes out.  So let me start at the beginning.

The Taker opens in the present when a very young women, Lanny, suspected of murder, is brought in by the police to an ER for evaluation.  Instead, the doctor, amazed by her story and evident healing abilities, helps her escape.  From there the “young” girl’s story, which begins at the turn of the 19th century, unfolds.  I don’t want to give too much away, but ultimately our heroine runs away from her family and childhood love, Jonathan, in rural Maine and falls into the clutches of the mysterious Adair in Boston.  Adair apparently holds the secret to immortality and has gathered about him an interesting entourage over the centuries which he rules with an iron fist (and some imaginative torture devices).  I had expected vampires but instead this group’s immortality rests squarely with the talent of Adair and his alchemical skills.  Book One Ends with a cliff hanger as Lanny is able to escape from Adair.

While this is certainly a book about obsessive love, what I enjoyed most about it was the fascinating characters, especially Adair, and the twisted plot.  The characters were rich and interesting and I especially loved the story of Adair’s study of alchemy over the centuries.  The book is dark and horrifying without resorting to trite supernatural elements and I could not put it down.       

The Reckoning is primarily about Adair’s pursuit of Lanny.  One thing I loved about this book was Adair’s reaction and adaptation to two hundred years of technological changes, I thought it was an interesting commentary about our current world.  And I also enjoyed learning more about Adair’s past, the back story of some more of his “family” and the implications of living for a very very long time.  While Book Two didn’t wow me like Book One did, I still enjoyed it and look forward to Book Three. 

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