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True love can last an eternity . . . but immortality comes at a price. . . .

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural St. Andrew, Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting a quiet evening--until a mysterious woman, Lanore McIlvrae, arrives in his ER, escorted by police. Lanore is a murder suspect, and Luke is inexplicably drawn to her. As Lanny tells him her story, an impassioned account of love and betrayal that transcends time and mortality, she changes his life forever. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Lanny was consumed as a child by her love for the son of St. Andrew’s founder, and she will do anything to be with him forever, but the price she pays is steep--an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate.

438 pages, Hardcover

First published April 14, 2011

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About the author

Alma Katsu

28 books2,733 followers
"Hard to put down. Not recommended reading after dark." -- Stephen King

"Makes the supernatural seem possible" -- Publishers Weekly

THE HUNGER: NPR 100 Favorite Horror Stories

THE HUNGER: Nominated for the Stoker and Locus awards

Author of THE DEEP, a reimagining of the sinking of the Titanic, and THE HUNGER, a reimagining of the Donner Party's tragic journey (Putnam);
THE TAKER, THE RECKONING and THE DESCENT (Gallery Books). The Taker was selected by ALA/Booklist as one of the top ten debut novels of 2011.

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5 stars
2,102 (26%)
4 stars
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3 stars
1,949 (24%)
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1 star
432 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,331 reviews
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,102 reviews409 followers
December 5, 2013
I must have missed something with this book because the reviews are rave yet I am ashamed I finished it. Because I am Puritanical? Perhaps.

The writer's style is flawlessly executed. She created interest immediately. Her description complete and idea of immortality intriguing. I could have been happy with the first few chapters then the last few chapters and skipped about 200 pages in between.

Lanore is from Puritanical Maine in the early 1800's. She is in love with Jonathon, the son of the town elite. He is set to inherit the semi-charmed life and, although he cares much for Lanore, he could never marry her. It would be socially inappropriate. Also, Jonathon is not in love with her. Oh, he'll have his dalliances and they will include Lanore, but he is a philanderer at heart.

Lanore ends up in Boston and is quickly inherited as a possession by a hedonistic and sadistic man named Adair. He is the king of his little lair and whatever he desires, he will acquire. He is also an alchemist of sorts. He grants immortality. The price, however, is he owns who he makes.

So, just to be clear - this part of the book is about sex. All forms of sex between people. This takes up an inordinate amount of the book. The story is still continuing and I am still reading because I feel compelled to find out what happens but I had to swim through a lot of sewer water to get to the end of the book. I'm not talking titillating kind of chick lit sex. It is hedonistic and sadistic, quirm-in-your-own-skin, uncomfortable kind of sex. It is violent and I am afraid I will need to take a long, hot shower.

You may be asking why I kept reading even when it was so uncomfortable. I kept thinking it would move on! And it didn't! Lanore kept giving in to Adair and doing things that were ethically against her background (more than just the sex) and I didn't like her. I didn't like Jonathon. Certainly I would have some sympathy for Luke - but I didn't. Against my better judgment, I kept reading. It had to get better. It just had to. Then I turned the last page and found the Acknowledgments.


Talented writer. Interesting concept. Well used verbiage and sentence structure. Compelling style. Really, really good writer. Did I say that? But the story to be told was not worth it.
Profile Image for oliviasbooks.
772 reviews512 followers
August 9, 2012
*** The review may contain some spoilery concerning the first half of the plot ***

Finally over. *sigh*

That short outburst above had been my "review" right after I had finished reading the book, and as far as my Goodreads.com account was concerned I planned to leave it at that. Now, more than three months later, I have accumulated enough emotional distance to deal with the story again.

I do not remember the exact wording, but when I was handed Alma Katsu’s debut The Taker in March, it came with the promise to be something like Die for Me aimed at the slightly older young adult reader. "Today" the line would probably use the words "A New Adult Die for Me" instead. The ambitious novel has unquestionably its merits and strong points, which I will come back to later, and will appeal to a certain target group – which I to my shame have not been able to label yet -, but it miserably failed the above mentioned pitch in both aspects: The only things The Taker has in common with Amy Plum’s successful paranormal romance are that it deals with the idea of immortality and that part of the plot takes place in Paris. And although two of the three narrators focus on the respective hero’s and heroine’s teenage years, I would never hesitate to sort the novel into the "regular adult" section next to dark books on the blurry edge to paranormal like The Gargoyle or thrillers about mentally unstable killers, who tell their own story in hindsight and drift off to their grandparents’ unhappy childhoods while they are at it. It should go without saying that I would never discourage a teen from picking up books from those shelves. I would say: Read what you want to, but know what it is you are wanting. And that is why I am sitting here to elaborate.

The Taker could be called a gloomy thriller, dark historic fiction or a book about alchemy and magic. But furthermost, as the title hazily suggests, in its core The Taker is a frightening study of obsession in different ugly forms. The story is arranged in three chronological, but interwoven layers told from three points of view.

The most recent layer shows us middle-aged, jaded small-town surgeon Dr. Luke Finley, who is divorced, lonely and extremely weary of his future in the unfriendly town St. Andrews, Maine. When a beautiful murderess is brought in by the Sheriff for the medical check-up that has to precede her police interrogation, he immediately falls so hard for the young girl and her weird explanations of being immortal and having done her companion a favor by ending his much too long life, that he risks everything to help her flee across the border in a "borrowed" car and becomes an accomplice without even looking back.

In the course of the middle layer killer Lanore McIlvrae tells Luke the story of her youth in a partly Puritan, party Catholic wood-cutting settlement in Main around 1809 and of her fateful move to Boston at the age of 17. All her life she had – like all the other girls and women in her village – been feverishly craving the undivided attention of rich and otherworldly beautiful Jonathan St. Andrews, who graciously admitted her to become his friend-like confidant, but who was too obsessed with himself and his unstillable sexual needs to bestow any kind of affection on her her or one of his uncountable married and unmarried bed-partners. No means to gain possession of Jonathan had been to dangerous, too evil or to stupid for Lanore, but eventually her parents had to send her to a Catholic convent in Boston to birth and hand over her out-of-wedlock offspring. Right off the boat she fell into the hands of immortal Adair's street hunters, who provided his drug-laden house parties with fresh, dispensable material, helpless girls meant to be fucked to death by the master of the house or his guests.
Inexplicably to me – and to Adair's cold-hearted household staff as well – Lanore felt grateful and excited towards her kidnapper for deigning to to save her from bleeding internally to death by making her immortal, and strived hard to become his favorite mistress and to learn the art of seduction from him in order to be able to contribute to the household by luring in prey herself. In fact, her fascination with him began even before her life was out of the danger zone:
"Despite my illness [she refers to her shredded intestines and her miscarriage] , he had me that evening and I let him, surrendered to the thrill of his weight over me."
Adair’s own obsession seemed to concentrate on beauty and perfection at first.

The deepest layer of the three-tiered story narrates the misery of his 14th-century youth in a third-person-point-of-view: His father, a Romanian nomad, sold his teenage son to a creepy, old alchemist employed by an entertainment-crazy Hungarian Count. Along with sympathetic Lanore the reader learns a lot about his complete loss of freedom, his utter loneliness, his purely sexual relationship with the physically and mentally disabled maid, his quiet hate for his unspeakably brutal, immortality-seeking master and his step-by-step foray into satisfying his sexual urges by sleeping with the mutilated corpses of village wenches, who his master regularly raped to death in his private dungeon and had him bury in the forest afterwards.

Yes, there is a lot of sex in The Taker. But, as already stated, the book is no paranormal romance and does not promote love. It doesn’t get very graphic, but it also does not hide anything: There are no glistening drops of fluid dancing on silky body parts to the rhythm of a sensually throbbing loin area. There are hiked-up petticoats in dirty barns, iron chains and primal screams in mouldy underground chambers, bruises and mortally wounded vital organs, there are forced threesomes and frantic, unexpected couplings in motel rooms. Although I can safely say that the romance-novel-style-overdose of sexual visuals is more often than not something I could do without, I would gladly exchange the corpse-groping and all the loveless abuse for some mushy minute-details-narration of how Lord X expertly leads Lady Y to her first orgasm ever. Honestly, I abhorred every single sexual encounter in The Taker, but I guess others might not. But what appalled and enraged me the most is the description of rape victims getting unwillingly aroused while being sexually abused and beaten to pulp. Partly the strangeness of Adair's sexual preferences is put a little into perspective when the secret around his narration's point-of-view is revealed, but, still, scenes like that do not sit well with me.

Another thing that stood between me and the ability to enjoy the book were the characters themselves. I did not remotely like any of them. I despised Lanore and her parents, Jonathan, Adair and his minions and certainly the alchemist, but I also did not get Luke, his unhealthy, illogical fascination with selfish Lanore, and his willingness to overlook that she is using him for her means in a very calculated way.

In addition, some of the facts that open Lanore's eyes are not logical at all, and the plot unnecessarily drags in places. I even contemplated giving up during the first third of the book. Plus, I felt as if the author wanted to mislead me in purpose by using elements that make the well-read fantasy reader associate "vampires": In the beginning it seems like Lanore has the ability to read thoughts and Adair's staff member Tilde is described as having sharpened teeth. But both hints turned into dead ends without a later explanation or apology.

Apropos end: The novel's ending points out dangerous things to come. Dangerous things Luke and Lanore remain unaware of. So you close the book with a lot of unease in your guts although you might not feel the urge to pick up the sequel. Do you like that? I definitely don’t.

Yet, I should not hide that although I easily anticipated most of the important plot mysteries, I think that the story-within-story-within-story structure has been well-planned and well-executed, that both historical eras seem to haven been well-researched and intricately depicted, that the writing shows talent and promise indeed. Savour, for instance, the novel's very first sentence to get a taste: „Goddamned freezing cold. Luke Finley’s breath hangs in the air, nearly a solid thing shaped like a wasp's nest, wrung of all its oxygen.“ That is beauty in the midst of mess, isn’t it?

Profile Image for Penny.
720 reviews210 followers
August 16, 2018
Actual rating 2.5 stars.

I can't say I enjoyed this book. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting.
The story didn't grab me at any point. It is just interesting enough to keep reading, just enough to want to find out where is all going to arrive to, but not entertaining enough to not have me thinking about DNFing it. Then, after the barely there interest, we arrive at an end that doesn't deliver. I was left unimpressed, disappointed and frustrated because how pointless all was. I could have gone without reading this book easily.

Early on in the book we enter into story telling territory, we get several narrations of people´s lives along the way which, in most occasions, I found very tedios. I didn't see the necessity of having these past time stories being told in such a long way. This book could have easily been cut half its size and it wouldn't have lost any meaning, while gaining in pace. The main problem being that these stories weren't interesting or entertaining. I never found myself wanting to know more about them, all I wanted was for them to be over already.

Overall, I felt very disappointed. I had great expectations going in, based on all the good reviews this book has. However, I didn't find very basic elements that usually engage me like an actual romance and some angst. There is darkness, which I usually like, but here everything is described under a cold air, very well written yes, but too icy emotionally and distant.

I think it is safe to assume that I won't be reading the next installments in this series.

P.S.: If you want to read meaningful stories, with depth, adventure, great dialogues and interesting characters, all with the paranormal element of immortal beings, their past stories and their present; then go ahead and read The Vanpire Chronicles by Anne Rice. You can skip this one.
Profile Image for Khalid Muhammad Abdul-Mumin.
146 reviews64 followers
December 11, 2022
First Read
27th of September, 2022

Edit one:
Alma Katsu's The Taker reads like a historical fiction, alternating between three timelines telling the tale of various characters. It sprinkles a little bit of the supernatural and paranormal around without concrete explanations (or any explanation at all even, except for the barest of flimsy ones).

The writing was good, a tad taxing and weird, explaining things in a second or third person POV. The love story was so so and honestly even though the plot was okay, I found the whole execution boring. I went into this thinking I was getting a darker version of V. E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue (which I loved!) from the blurb; but alas, nope.

I struggled to finish this honestly... So I'm holding on to my recommendation until I give the second book a try, hoping the premise gets better later on in the plot.
Profile Image for Wee Shubba's World.
406 reviews49 followers
June 3, 2012
First I was to say just a little bit about the book cover. So everyone is always saying "Dont judge a book by its cover". However, honestly it usually the cover that makes you pick up the book to start with. If the cover catches your eye you will pick up the book. Most people deny that they judge a book by its cover but we are all guilty of it at some. And this cover is one that would catch your eyes in book store. Its looks really pretty in the picture. However it is simply WOW in person. It just gorgeous. A beautiful design that is enchanting. The design is all embosed and just perfect. And as a bonus it has black edged paper. As I said its just WOW

Now. The Taker is one of those story that grips you from the first chapter. Alma has created a wonder dark and enchanted tale of love and obsession and mixed it with a memorizing story that it very brutal at times.

The story line is just wonderful. The story follows Lanny, a woman who has had a hard life and when she appears into Dr. Luke's life everything changes for him, as this beautiful woman tells him her story of her life. As we read about Lanny's past we are introduced to so many colourful characters. Lanny herself is actually rather easy for me to connect with it. She is selfish at times and her love for Jonathan (the man she loved in her past) is a borderline dangerous obsession for her. However, she is tough and wise and survives through all her tough times. We don't really here alot of Luke as this is mainly a story of Lanny's past. He was likeable although I sometimes didn't want to come back from the past as it was just so mesmerizing.

The Taker had me shocked at times and smiling at times. And the twist in the plot was a real shock to me. Usually I can figure out a plot really quick. However, I never knew what was coming next for Lanny and the biggest twist had me gasping with shock. I mean proper mouth opened just staring like OMG.

What I truely loved about this was that in most books its all happily ever afters. However, this is a more realistic ending to the story and I loved it. It truely was the most perfect ending.

If you are looking for a fantastic story that will have you hooked straight away and that it bound to be a bestseller then please as soon as this book is out buy you will not be disappointment.

Finally just a quick thank you to the publisher for giving me a copy for review. I have never been more grateful for a book as now this is one of my favourite reads and looking forward to more of Alma Katsu's novels.

Profile Image for Heather *sad DNF queen*.
Author 17 books445 followers
January 30, 2012
I'm just going to list the things I hated most about this novel.

1. Jonathan. He was beautiful, sure. The most beautiful man on the planet (because everyone on the planet in this book's universe shared the same standards of beauty, apparently). But beyond that, what was his appeal? He was weak, spineless, and disloyal. He had no character. I have a hard time believing anyone would love him upon getting to know him.

2. Both Lanny and Jonathan holding themselves responsible for driving someone to suicide. It's not like the person who committed suicide made the final decision or anything. Holding themselves responsible was just an excuse to feel guilty about something.

3. Lanny goes to the city and immediately has something horrifying happen to her. That's NEVER happened in a novel before! How genius!

4. Adair's household. WHERE DO I BEGIN? Nowhere, that's where. I don't want to dwell on that gratuitous (though generally not explicit, thank god) nastiness. Also, there didn't seem to be a point to all those people living with him.


6. The ending.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head, since I don't want to go get the book and peruse it for anything else that annoyed me. The writing was good, as other reviewers have said, but not amazing. It's just very formal. And dry. Nothing special, but the quality of writing is what compelled me to give it two stars instead of one.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,991 reviews363 followers
October 9, 2017
I seem to be having the hardest time connecting with characters lately. I wanted to love this in all its darkness glory but the truth is I felt nothing for any of the characters. All the male leads with the exception of Luke, were horrible people. How can I be in love with a love interest when I can't even find a redeeming quality in them?

I don't know, this may be a rare case of it's me, not you...

This just wasn't my cup of tea at this time. Maybe some time in the future I will pick up the sequel and have better luck with it.
Profile Image for Juliana Philippa.
995 reviews911 followers
July 16, 2015
3.5 stars | Grade: B-
This novel is a story about the choices we make and how they can result in consequences we are unwilling to imagine at the time and unable to fix later on. It’s a story about blind and selfish love, about becoming a slave to one’s desires, about the evilness that exists in the human heart and the loneliness that can drive us to do terrible things. It’s a story about human weakness and indulgence, about how permissiveness and indifference can become cruelty. It’s a story about how nothing is ever as simple as it seems and how we can never change people into the person we want them to be—how trying to do so will only lead to disaster and heartbreak.

Summary. To give a full summary of The Taker would ruin the reading experience, so I won’t write too much. The book goes back and forth in time, between present day and the 19th century. It’s not a romance, but rather a “mainstream” fiction novel with elements of metaphysics and gothic romance.

The Taker centers around a young woman born in the early 1800s. Lanore grew up in a small town in the wilderness of Maine and at a young age fell in love with the town’s golden boy, Jonathan. They form a close friendship, but as the years pass Lanny longs for more. Having to watch Jonathan go from one woman to another and never turn to her is devastating. She yearns to possess Jonathan and to have him accept her love and devotion. This obsessive desire leads to a series of events that affect lives far beyond her own and that stretch out timelessly in front of her.
Now I know only a fool looks for assurances in love. Love demands so much of us that in return we try to get a guarantee that it will last. We demand permanence, but who can make such promises?
Reaction. What to say about this story? It is devastating, nerve-wracking, mysterious, and darkly sensual; it’s a seductive read, but also very heavy. I had to read it in batches and found myself putting it down for several days in between readings. It is not a feel-good book: it involves obsession, rape, violence, murder, taboo subjects, and sex—lots and lots of sex. It is not erotica, but has dark erotic undertones from beginning to end.

All of its characters are destructive, twisted, unhappy, and depraved. I have to admit that I did not like a single one of them, though for me that’s only a deal breaker if it’s a romance book. This is a novel that explores so many ugly aspects of humanity and human behavior that I couldn’t help but be fascinated; I found the most interesting character to be the one who was also the most evil. As repulsive and incomprehensible as The Taker’s characters sometimes are, they are also perversely compelling—like watching a burning house: it’s difficult to see the terror and loss that is unfolding before you, but it is also impossible to look away from, beautiful as it is in its absolute destruction that leaves behind only emptiness and devastation.

I’m always curious as to the meaning of a book’s title. In this instance, it comes from a conversation between Lanore and Luke, one of the present-day characters, about her relationship with Jonathan:
“I’ve always wanted him to love me the way I loved him. He did love me, I know he did. Just not the way I wanted him to. And it’s not so different for a lot of people I’ve known. One partner doesn’t love the other enough to stop drinking, or gambling, or running around with other women. One is the giver and one is the taker. The giver wishes the taker would stop.”

“But the taker never changes,” Luke says, though he wonders if this is always the case.

“Sometimes the giver has to let go, but sometimes you don’t. You can’t.”
Here, Lanore is presented as the Giver and Jonathan the Taker, but the truth is that every single one of the book’s characters is a Taker. The entire novel is about Taking and if nothing else, that is the lesson it teaches: these characters take and take and take, yet still they remain unfulfilled; they are able to find pleasure, but never joy. It is never enough—it can never and will never be enough—yet they have condemned themselves to always wanting more, to always wanting what they cannot have.

Criticisms. My main criticism is that the whole story revolves around and is driven by this (supposedly) deep and obsessive passion Lanore feels for Jonathan. It’s the crux of the entire novel … and yet I was unable to believe in it. For me, this essential element of the book ended up being its biggest “telling, not showing” example. Lanny’s great love for him is what triggers all the subsequent events in the book and brings about so many people’s downfall, but I just didn’t buy it. It felt inauthentic, and I’m sure part of it had to do with the fact that I found Jonathan to be very weak, and therefore didn’t understand what it was that captivated her about him.

Some of my other criticisms are the blah-ness that was Luke, the inauthentic and cavalier way that characters’ rapes are dealt with within the story, and the disappointing ending. I loved what happens shortly before the end and found that to be one of the most honest and authentic passages. The ending itself though was very anti-climactic, especially in comparison to the drama of the rest of the book. The Taker is the first in a trilogy (how two more books are coming from this I know not), so the story will be continued, but as a separate book it should have a strong ending that stands on its own.

Bottom Line. We’ve reached the end now, and you’re probably confused (as am I): did I enjoy the book or not? Everything I’ve written above makes it sound torturous and emotionally draining, which in many ways it was. However this book was also compelling: it was like that burning house, the one you know you should look away from, but instead can’t stop watching with sick fascination.

Alma Katsu is without a doubt a talented writer. With The Taker, she has created a dark and gothic world with very, very flawed characters, and as repellant as they are, one is seduced into watching them destroy themselves. Katsu has a wonderful ability to create an all-encompassing and overwhelming tone and atmosphere with her writing. She does so in a way that creeps up on you, so that you unknowingly become slowly enveloped, and by the time you realize what’s happening, it’s already too late: you’re lost in the fog.

One of My Favorite Quotes:
Looking back, I know we were only filling in the holes in our souls, the way the tide rushes sand to fill in the crevices of a rocky shore. We—or maybe it was just I—bandaged our needs with what we declared was love. But, eventually, the tide draws out what it has swept in.

Originally reviewed for Fiction Vixen Book Reviews. This review is of a copy provided by the author/publisher to FVBR.
Profile Image for Crystal Craig.
250 reviews571 followers
November 10, 2021
Be sure to visit my Favorites Shelf for the books I found most entertaining.

Lot's of culture
Total cover love
Flawed characters

The Taker was a treasure to read. I used to be a mystery/thriller/suspense reader through and through. I rarely read historical fiction, and I certainly didn't read fantasy other than an odd paranormal romance—vampires, of course. In the past year, I've begun to branch out into historical fiction, and fantasy—even some sci-fi, and I'm loving it.

The cover caught my eye. It's stunning. I so enjoyed this book. I literally couldn't put it down. It's so rich in culture; It takes you to places you'd never imagine. It's a modern story with flashbacks to the 1800s.

The characters—honestly, they weren't that likable. I found Lenore to be very naïve at times. Of course, things were different in that era. Young girls did what their father asked, married who they were told to marry. Women obeyed their husbands. Having said that, Lenore did catch on quickly and developed a strong survival instinct—not that you should have to worry about life and death when you're immortal. But, Lenore did fear for her life. Adair, the mysterious force who gave her eternal life, could take it from her whenever it pleased him. Also, she had to protect her precious love, Jonathan, the handsome beau she'd loved since she was a young girl. I didn't care for him at all—complete womanizer.

It was interesting to read a story about immortality—and no vampires.
Profile Image for Allison.
317 reviews3 followers
February 10, 2012
I received this book for free through Goodreads first reads, and I was excited to dig in. I only got a few chapters in and lost interest, though. I quickly grew tired of Lanny's obsession with Jonathan, a weak and spineless individual not worth such devotion. Apparently there are some twisted sex scenes later on that you have to wade through to keep up with the story--not worth it for a mediocre read to begin with.


I keep coming back to my review of this book, perhaps because I rarely give one star and since I work with authors, I feel a measure of guilt for doing so. But each time I reevaluate, I feel the same way. The present-tense narration frustrated me so much right from the beginning that perhaps that affected my opinion toward the book. This is a difficult style in which to write, appropriate only for specific stories and writers, in my opinion. And I just grew bored with the stock village and characters. Perhaps they were written so to offset the present-day storyline, but in light of other elements I did not enjoy, it wasn't worth finishing for me. I'm in the minority it appears, but so it stands.
Profile Image for Maria Clara.
976 reviews491 followers
July 22, 2016
Realmente con esta historia he tenido un gran problema llamado Lanore; la protagonista femenina. En serio, se me ha hecho enormemente pesado su egoísmo! (Hasta diría su egoísmo bañado de maldad). Sin embargo, reconozco que ella no puede ser diferente, porque sino nos quedamos sin historia. De todas maneras, y por lo que se lleva las cuatro estrellas, es por lo diferente que es en cuanto a novela romántica y por su final...
Profile Image for Katie(babs).
1,807 reviews541 followers
September 16, 2011
Debut author, Alma Katsu has really hit a home run with The Taker. This book is so anti-love, a true pessimist’s delight. The Taker shows with Lanore Mcllvrae, the main protagonist, how falling in love with someone who doesn’t love you in the same way back can destroy your life. In the case of Lanore, Alma has created a more sensationalized example, using supernatural elements to prove that love can be not only destructive but can become an unhealthy obsession that will eat away at a person until they’re a lifeless husk.

Since I’m a pessimist when it comes to love, especially romantic love (which I guess is ironic because not only do I love reading romance but I write it), The Taker really spoke to me on so many levels. I ached for Lanore because of the cruel and selfish actions, not only from the man she has adored her entire life, but from a reprehensible individual who gives her the means to have everything she ever desires, if only she will love him back with her entire soul. At the same time I felt Lanore was much like a victim in a horror movie. You know it won’t end well for them as you watch them take actions that will lead to their demise, where the killer is hiding in the basement, waiting for their intended victim to investigate the strange noise they heard.

The Taker is much like a horror movie where love is the crazed serial killer and its victims are those who fall in love and want to be loved by that person they fixate on. Unfortunately the object of their fixation is responsible for their ruin.

This story begins in present day with Dr. Luke Findley. Luke works the overnight shift at the hospital in the backwater town of St. Andrew in the northernmost corner of Maine. Luke is divorced, hardly ever sees his children and is living in the run down house his dead parents once owned. One night a young woman is brought it. She looks barely legal and is accused of murdering a man in the woods. The local authorities want Luke to make certain she’s well (she’s covered in blood and wounded) before they bring her to jail and question her. The woman, Lanny, tells Luke her name and there’s a justifiable reason she had to kill the man she was with. She then cuts herself with a scalpel and before Luke’s eyes she heals. She begs him to help her escape and against his better judgment he does that. Luke wants answers, which Lanny will give him. Both go on a road trip where Lanny tells him of her past and how she’s over two-hundred years old.

Lanny once lived with her family in a village that Luke knows as St. Andrew. The earliest memory Lanny has is of the year 1809 when she’s twelve and realizes she has fallen in love with Jonathan St. Andrew, the son of the richest man of the village. Lanny dreams she’ll marry Jonathon, but he thinks of her more as a friend, although she receives her first kiss from him. They become close, but Jonathon turns to other women for comfort, even impregnating a married woman who ends up killing herself, which Lanny feels responsible for. Lanny continues to wait for Jonathon to come to his senses and admit how much he loves her. Jonathon eventually turns to Lanny for physical pleasure and the outcome is devastating. Lanny ends up pregnant, but Jonathon is engaged to another woman and can’t marry her. With no other choice, Lanny is banished to a convent in Boston to give birth, where she will have to give up her child.

Lanny reaches Boston, unchaperoned and never reaches the convent. She ends up being taken, or rather coerced, by a woman and a man of means. Lanny makes another big mistake and ends up at a house of horrors, where the master of the domain there, Adair, a nobleman, decides to keep Lanny with him in his eccentric menagerie or his family as he calls them. A series of unfortunate events, thanks to Adair leaves Lanny near death. Adair grants her the gift of immortality, which she accepts.

Lanny has become like Alice who fell down the rabbit hole. Adair’s world is full of fiendish sexual delights that Lanny can’t help but enjoy. Because she has nowhere else to turn, she allows Adair to tutor her and become her protector. She becomes his favorite and wants her love all for himself. But she can’t give him what he wants because her heart belongs to Jonathon. And that’s when Adair plans for Lanny to have her heart’s desire and orders her to bring Jonathon into the fold. If she doesn’t, the consequences could be disastrous not only for her, but for Jonathon as well. She’ll have to pay a major price, but when all is said and done she’ll finally have Jonathon like she always wanted.

The Taker is a heartbreaking read with unredeemable characters because of their faults and wants. There’s a great deal of gloom and doom within these pages, mainly from Lanny whose one stupid move was falling for Jonathon, who is ruled by his cock. He’s the worst kind of male, a weak human being who longs for sexual gratification regardless of the consequences of his actions. Adair, the villain of the piece, is more insightful on why he does the things that he does. He makes no apologies and embraces all that he is. He’s very manipulative and uses this form of oily persuasion to get what he wants, especially from Lanny.

I can see why Jonathon wasn’t dedicated to Lanny. She’s pretty average in both looks and personality and doesn’t have that appeal Jonathon is searching for. He treats Lanny more like a faithful dog, a pet he plays with until he grows bored. I couldn’t really understand why Adair was so enamored with her either. And, the modern day romance with Luke and Lanny seems weak and lacking, especially when we see Lanny’s passion for Jonathon and her at times spectacular life with Adair.

The Taker may seem heavy on the sex, but it’s written in almost a subdued way with a few throwaway lines here and there. The overall sexual dynamics between the characters are not the important thing here, but more for the psychological and emotional aspect when two join their bodies together to express their hunger for the flesh or a simple desire to be close to another.

The Taker will most likely have many different opinions on what has been accomplished here. It ends with a possible sequel, and when all is said and done, nothing has really been learned, mainly with Lanny. She has an understanding of her situation and the outcome of her actions, but I can see her reverting back to where she once began, searching for acceptance and love in all the wrong places.

Perhaps the best way to explain what The Taker is all about is straight from the words of the author:

“Love can be a cheap emotion, lightly given, though it didn’t seem so to me at the time. Looking back, I know we were only filling in the holes of our souls, the way the ride rushes sand to fill in the crevices of a rocky shore. We-or maybe it was just I-bandaged our needs with what we declared was love. But, eventually, the tide draws out what it has swept in.”

Makes you think how damaging and ridiculous falling in love can be, which I believe has been accomplished with The Taker.
Profile Image for Alyse.
45 reviews18 followers
September 13, 2011
I wanted to like this book. I wanted to love this book. I am dying for a book that spills real love and real heart. This book was trying so hard to be Anne Rice. Katsu begins her book by going down that road, but ends up with a sad mimicry of a Rice's connection between immortality and sadism (something that could not have been avoided by the characters even if Katsu had a better writing style). The characters were flat and apparently incapable of making sound or selfless decisions. There is never any explanation of why or how they are this way. ***Spoilers following (kind of b/c Katsu made a kitschy show of "shocking" the reader about the immortality of the characters)*. One would think that after hundreds of years, a person would develop some sort of personality. According to Katsu, this does not happen; unless, of course, you count the last two chapters where Jonathan (presumably a cousin of the Twilight clan, based on his exceedingly good looks with nothing to hold his head on) magically develops personality, just in time for a dramatic exit. Besides that, NOTHING effects the characters decisions or personality, and I do mean NOTHING.
Profile Image for Sher Free.
215 reviews6 followers
July 7, 2013
So The Taker was a really difficult novel. To be honest I was not sure what to expect, having mostly been drawn by the beautiful cover. Yes, I know I know. But who really doesn’t judge a book by one? Anyway, the publisher description was vague enough as to add to the intrigue. So like a donkey with the proverbial carrot I was pulled along with the expectation of a sweet surprise. Was it a gothic mystery? A paranormal romance? A modern cautionary tale? Well it turned out to be all of these things… sort of… or sort of not. Halfway through I still didn’t know what it was about, and even now I’m left scratching my head.

So I think I’ve come to the conclusion that The Taker is primarily a historical fiction novel, just one with allegorical, supernatural elements. It is NOT a romance, at least not of the typical feel-good, emotional, or bodice-ripping varieties. Although, it is about love (confused yet?).

Well it is actually more about obsession, the dark, all-consuming obsession that drives people to make the wrong decisions for all the wrong reasons. And, of course, it is about the bleak ramifications that eternally change the courses of the lives of those involved.

Although the story shifts back and forth in time, as Lanny recounts her incredible tale in present day, it largely takes place in 19th century New England. Our heroine, a young girl of modest lineage in the repressed puritanical town of St. Andrew, makes the mistake of falling in love with the wrong person. The favored son of the town’s founder, Jonathan, not only can’t return her love, as much as he might want to, but he strings her along for his own selfish purposes.

Young Jonathan is a Puritan-era player through and through, a lonely golden boy whom all the girls want to have and all the boys love to hate.

At first Lanny provides him with platonic friendship, as he works his way through the married women of the village -- all the while unapologetically taking advantage of the love she unequivocally bestows on him. Perhaps I am being a tad unfair, as he does have certain feelings for her and she plays no innocent part either. But whatever, he’s Don Draper in a ruff and pantaloons so no woman and a lot of men just do not stand a chance against his beautiful perfection and assiduous ministrations.

When this situation leads to where it inevitably must, Lanny eventually ends up in Boston under the auspices of the mysterious and cruel Adair and his posse of strange disciples. The question then becomes...

Who… or what… are these outrageously decadent and amoral people whose control she has fallen under? What is Adair’s interest in her, yes, but more importantly, what is his interest in Jonathan?

Hmmmm, I say, tapping my chin.

With Adair's POV we get yet another story… within a story… within a story (even more confused?) as he relates his ostensibly long and tragic past. I have to say that while I did not find this format hard to follow, it isn’t my favorite fiction device, especially when done to this extent. Moreover, it switches all about between first and third person. Some people will have issues with the juxtaposition, and I can’t say I would blame them. However, Adair weaves an unsettling yarn critical to the mystery to be revealed later, one that also engenders some sympathy as his role of victim as much as tormenter is demonstrated.

This is also where the paranormal elements come in, although it is not categorically a paranormal story either. You will find none of the genre’s typical vampires, witches, ghosts, or sorcery, although alchemy (of a dark magical sort) and immortality are key elements. As I see it, however, they are vehicles to deliver the cautionary elements of the plot, metaphors for the enduring nature and destructiveness of obsessive love, of power and control.

So… this does sound kind of interesting, doesn't it?

Many people will, and have, found The Taker to be enthralling. Reading this back, it seems like a story I would want to read had I not already read it. Dark, haunting tales of mystery, desire, and revenge, especially featuring the supernaturally extraordinary, are a little like crack for me. BUT (and yes it’s a BIG but), I do NOT like desolate stories of masochistic violence, abuse, manipulation, and subjugation, of which there is a LOT here. While there were times I got completely sucked into it, especially as Lanny crafts an ingenious plan of reprisal, many more moments induced the need to grab a blankie and curl up for a good thumbsuck.

It is that disconcerting and depressing.

Perhaps more importantly, I also prefer to like the characters I’m reading about. There needs to be someone to root for. Unfortunately there was absolutely no one, not Jonathan despite a certain baffling redemption, nor Adair, whose brutality knows no bounds. Certainly not Lanny, the perpetual victim, incredibly selfish and manipulative in her own way. Not even Luke, the ER physician to whom she recites her narrative while he becomes irrevocably drawn into it. Unfortunately, he was purely an aside. Someone I should have felt empathy for, but just didn’t.

That being said, there is a masochistic part of me that would like to know where else this story is to go. The ending was a bit rushed and hasty as much as the rest was long and drawn-out (and I dare say, even tedious at times). There is certainly unfinished business to be reckoned with (Ha! I actually did not know the name of book 2 when I wrote that!).

But can I really put myself through all that distress and misery again? I think I’d really just prefer the cliff notes please. And then I would still need a hot cocoa and a hug.

The Taker was provided in exchange for an honest review, originally published on Hot Listens: http://lupdilup-hotlistens.blogspot.c...
Profile Image for Melissa Crytzer Fry.
312 reviews336 followers
January 26, 2012
This novel promises an unforgettable story before even the first printed page. A golden metallic, embossed scroll-like paper adorns the inside flaps of the hardcover version of this book, hinting at mystery, intrigue and antiquity.

And the first haunting chapter delivers on that promise, leading the reader into the intriguing stories behind those scroll-like papers, propelling the reader forward. Yes, Alma Katsu’s debut novel captivated me from the start. It is a complete anomaly in terms of the neat genres of the publishing industry: it’s part love story, part fantasy/supernatural, part historical fiction, part mystery (none of these genres, ironically, are what I usually read). But it is also a literary novel, and I drank every delicious word.

This story of Lanny and Jonathan – and unrequited love – spans centuries, locales, emotions, heartache and frightening periods of darkness and pure evil. The skill with which Katsu weaves in and out of three different time frames – present day, 1800s, 1300s – is nothing short of breathtaking. The story structure reminds me of Russian nesting dolls, each story tucked neatly into the other, building on the next to form the whole. And with each uncovered layer, a new discovery.

And the words … Alma Katsu strings together words with efficiency and beauty. The prose is, indeed, drinkable. The characters, their flaws and their often destructive decisions and behavior, make them worthy of following through this 400+ page book. In addition to meeting Lanny and Jonathan, a host of additional characters – Adair, Dona, Tilde, Alejandro, Uzra – add additional intrigue to this book that is ultimately about the power and sometimes destructive nature of love. It's also about obsession, fitting in, and finding one's place in the world.

A word of warning: this story is not for the faint of heart. While elements of magic and passion are key to the novel, so are masochistic and sadistic themes in several sections. Some portions of the book have their share of violence. And while I have never gravitated toward those themes in my reading preferences, the presence of them was necessary to portray the true evil that bound these characters together and threatened to tear them apart; some readers may find them to be too much. Even so, I believe most readers will feel that Katsu handled the topics with craftsmanship and skill.

If you are interested in a story that is truly unique – and even a story within a story within a story – this book is pure magic. I am happy that it was recommended to me by a trustworthy source; otherwise, I’m sure I’d have missed out on this intriguing tale whose characters will stay with me for a long time.
Profile Image for Jane.
Author 10 books805 followers
September 26, 2012
Where I got the book: freebie at RT Booklovers' Convention.

In the endless reaches of Book, a reader wanders in search of a likeable character.

Things I Did Not Like:

1. the pouty-face girl on the cover. It's one of those photos that follows you with its eyes.
2. the way the plot jerks about like one of those horrendous carnival rides where you think you're going in one direction and then you're not.
3. every single character. No wait, the prostitute in the woods was OK.
4. SO much telling-not-showing. Hints of Terrible Things the author would tell us about if she could be bothered.
5. perfunctory, joyless, unerotic sex scenes, if three lines or so can be called a scene.

There were moments when I liked the story if not the characters, usually when we were in the frozen wastes of Maine. There's a great little story about a girl totally wasting her time; we've all been there. Plus, a really nice evocation of Up North in the early 1800s. Those bits were written with sincerity and, if not warmth, a certain surety of touch. But then we left Maine and things went all Anne Rice.

Talking of Anne Rice, this novel reminds me of The Witching Hour. Remember that? Pages and pages of wonderful, slow buildup of a picture of decaying New Orleans, hauntings, mistiness, a bit of a love story and then Bam! ALIENS. Started in one corner of the Universe, ended on Planet Weird.

The Taker is not quite so linear. It oscillates between the states of Planet Weird and Hello We've Found The Story Again like Schrödinger's cat. I take a look at the ratings and find it has received its fair share of brickbats as well as bouquets; perhaps I'm just on the wrong side of forty for this kind of writing.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,563 reviews5,865 followers
June 25, 2013
Enjoyable story. The story kept the book in my hands but one thing that drove me bonkers was why the heck did we have to know about how beautiful Jonathan was every few pages? That irked the heck outta me. Another peeve with the book is that Lanny had lived all those years and she never learned about the boy? I mean dang woman grow a set of balls.
Profile Image for Catriona.
141 reviews41 followers
March 12, 2011
An astonishing and accomplished novel. Brutal, heartbreaking and magical, easily comparable to the likes of Anne Rice.
Profile Image for Jack.
Author 4 books126 followers
December 26, 2018
Having been quite taken (zing!) by Alma Katsu’s slow-burn take on the Donner Party in her excellent novel The Hunger, I was eager to give her earlier works a chance. So I figured I’d start at the beginning, with her debut novel The Taker. And while the premise sounded suspiciously like a romance tale with vampires (two genres that I really have no interest in), the actual contents of the book were quite entertaining and rather original.

”One partner doesn’t love the other enough to stop drinking, gambling, or running around with other women. One is the giver, and one is the taker. The giver wishes the taker would stop.”

Originally published back in 2011, The Taker is a rather unique historical fiction, one that reads like a more contemplative, and less verbose, Anne Rice novel. Much like The Hunger, this is a slow burn affair, relying more on originality and plot, rather than action and spectacle, to keep the reader invested. Like I said, I’m not much for vampires or romances (and definitely not romantic vampires), but thankfully The Taker provides a slightly different take on immortality and those who have it.

”Take care of yourself, Lanore. Be careful. And whatever you do, don’t fall in love with your gentleman. We women make our worst decisions when we are in love.”

As with all of my reviews, I will attempt to keep spoilers to a minimum. Though the synopsis of the book does a good job of explaining the basic premise, there is so much history and discovery fashioned within the pages that, to explain them, would rob the story of much of its impact. So, in order to keep things as secret as possible, I will do my level best to avoid giving away any significant plot points.

The Taker is a story that jumps between the present and early 1800’s New England, but these transitions are never confusing or jarring. The majority of the story does take place in the past, with the present day sections providing brief respites from the historical reminiscing. We essentially have two main characters, though I hesitate to call them protagonists per se. There is evil in this book, for sure, but it’s not really a tale of “good vs evil”. So unlike most books I’ve read, I can’t really say that anyone is overtly a protagonist or antagonist. Like most people (fictional or otherwise), the characters in The Taker are various shades of gray, showing both kindness and wickedness, being at turns both caring and selfish. The primary main character is Lanore McIlvrae, a woman born into a mixed religious family in St. Andrew, Maine, in the late 1700’s. She is the focus of the story, and most of the book is from her perspective. The other main character is Luke Findley, an ER doctor in modern times, and he is the surrogate for the reader, as we share his sense of wonder and discovery as he meets Lanore and she shares her story with him.

It was a sad place to live, too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, and lonely as the moon.

In a way, the storytelling in The Taker reminds me quite a bit of Frankenstein. Both are a story that is being told after the fact; a recounting of events to another character in the story. But while Frankenstein was done in an epistolary format, The Taker is a verbal affair, with Lanore telling her tale to Luke over the course of several days. Given the historical nature of the tale, this delivery works well, helping convey the tale with a more personal slant. Needless to say, the modern portions of the book are nowhere near as engaging as Lanore’s historical accounts. While the modern sections are necessary, and do provide a break and a counterpoint to the retelling of past events, they just don’t have the same oomph. Nor did I expect them to. This is a story about the extraordinary events from Lanore’s past, so that’s where the meat of the story is going to be.

He’s left their paintings in storage in the old country, like the faces of angels locked away in a vault.

The only part that was a little jarring at first is that all of the chapters from Luke’s perspective are told in present tense third-person. It’s just rare enough that it threw me off for the first third of the story. Eventually I stopped noticing it, but it did take a little bit.

Of the two characters, Lanore is obviously the focal point. It’s her history we are learning about, and she is an engaging character and consummate storyteller. She has a hopeful heart, and her emotions are always close to the surface. While she is ultimately a “good” person, she is by no means perfect, and has plenty of moments of weakness, spite, jealousy, and anger. One of the things I absolutely loved about this book is that every character is shown with their flaws fully on display. There’s no glossing over the things that men and women do when they think nobody is watching. Everyone has secrets, everyone has faults, and Alma Katsu navigates these imperfect waters with great talent. Ultimately, Lanore is relatable because she feels things we all feel, but in her case she feels them more strongly than most characters do in books. She’s a “heart on her sleeve” kind of girl, and I found it endearing. She is far from perfect, and some of the things she has done (or admitted to herself in the solitude of her own mind), made me cringe, but that just makes her all the more human.

Luke, on the other hand, is a bit of an odd duck for me. He is kind, in a world-weary way, and certainly has his endearing moments. He sees beyond his initial impression of Lanore, and has a dedication to his craft that is admirable, but I honestly don’t see what endears him to Lanore. He comes across more like a befuddled Samaritan than someone who would capture (and keep) her interest. I get it that the story needs a surrogate, someone for Lanore to tell her story to, but Luke is almost too much of a wet blanket. Almost. Still, props must be given to Alma Katsu for not going taking the “McDreamy or McSteamy” path for Luke, and instead making him more of a relatable everyman. And, I think any man would be somewhat of a wet blanket in the face of the timeless mystery that is Lanore. So I guess I have to cut him some slack.

There are plenty of other characters in The Taker, including Lanore’s beautiful but aloof friend Jonathan and Adair, the man who brings Lanore into the shadowy world that she didn’t know existed. Both men are richly drawn, attractive and yet dangerous in their own way. I like how Alma Katsu subverts the usual “most attractive man in the world” conceit with Jonathan, providing a viable reason why his looks are important, beyond the “attractive people attractively fucking” motif that pervades every facet of entertainment these days. But to speak any more about either of these men would run the risk of spoilers, so that’s all I’ll say about them.

So much suppressed lust smoldering in the bosom of many a female in that dry field that day, it’s a wonder the grass didn’t catch on fire.

One of my favorite things about The Taker is that it’s a supernatural tale, but one bereft of traditional “monsters”. Alma Katsu could have easily gone in any of an assorted directions with her story, but she wisely takes the road less travelled. Yes, this is a story that has monsters in it, but those monsters are men who choose to do monstrous things. After all, what is worse? A monster who is evil be design? Or a monster who is evil by choice? For my own preference, give me a human monster any day. Mankind is capable of such selfless acts of love and sacrifice, which makes it all the more engaging when someone willingly chooses to take the darker road, forsaking morality and decency and instead succumbing to the animal instincts buried just below the surface. This is undeniably a story about love, and the lengths people will go because of that love, but on the flipside of that coin is hatred and cruelty, and The Taker has that in droves as well.

A love that is too strong can turn poisonous and bring great unhappiness. And then, what is the remedy? Can you unlearn your heart’s desire? Can you stop loving someone?

After reading both The Hunger and now The Taker, it’s clear that Alma Katsu has a serious knack for historical fiction. She expertly takes true pieces of history and incorporates them with her imaginative creations for a wonderful concoction. But I like that she keeps the historical facts to a minimum, serving mostly as accents to the story. Because ultimately these are works of fiction, and her imagination should be allowed to breathe. And believe me, it certainly does. She has some pretty awesome ideas nestled within these pages, all served with a healthy dose of pragmatism where human nature is concerned. And honestly, nothing quite played out in The Taker like I thought it would. Which was a very welcome surprise indeed.

But the town now made its living catering to the whims of strangers and seemed degraded, like finding your childhood home had been turned into a bordello, or worse, a convenience store.

If I have any issues with the story, it’s that it’s less horrific and more contemplative than I was expecting. But that’s mostly from my own expectations after reading The Hunger. Honestly, there’s not much criticism I can level at the book. Sure, it’s slow at parts, and occasional punches are pulled when it comes to describing the unsavory acts that immortal hedonists would taking part in. But outside of that, there’s very little to nitpick. It’s a well written book, with a unique take on immortality and has enough little twists and turns to keep even jaded readers engaged. There’s mild stabs at humor, but for the most part this is a somber tale, moments of light and warmth always locked in battle with the harshness of life and the casual cruelty of man.

Men like this are capable of sniffing out women like Magdalena from across a town, across a valley if the wind is right and they are desperate enough.

The most frustrating part with this book, and the trilogy itself, is that I’m kind of at a crossroads. I am very excited for where the story is heading, especially after reading the sneak-peek for the second book in the trilogy. There’s some interesting shenanigans in store for Lanny and Luke, and I’m sure there’s more stories from her past for Lanore to dredge up. At the same time, this wasn’t quite as dark or as disturbing as I was hoping for. While The Hunger was more a traditional “horror” tale, The Taker is more of a historical romance with supernatural underpinnings. Not quite my cup of tea, no matter how expertly it may be crafted. So, in all honesty, I can’t really say if I’ll pick up the next book or not. I’m sure I’ll check out the novella The Devil’s Scribe where Lanore meets Edgar Allen Poe (because duh, it’s POE!), but I am truly unsure if I’ll read any of the other novels themselves. But, that uncertainty notwithstanding, I really did enjoy The Taker.
Profile Image for Leanna Elle.
408 reviews191 followers
April 12, 2011
An addictive tale of immortal love, Alma Katsu’s debut novel, The Taker, will keep you reading late into the night, and leave you wanting more. Combining elements of paranormal romance with historical fiction, this book will take you on an unmissable journey through time.

The story opens in present day Maine, in the small town of St. Andrew, where Dr. Luke Findley is about to embark on yet another monotonous shift at the Aroostook County Hospital. Recently divorced, and living a totally unfulfilled life, Luke can’t wait to escape from St. Andrew, but somehow he hasn’t been able to make the break with the town where he grew up just yet. However, his life is about to change forever. From the moment Lanny McIlvrae enters his life, he somehow knows that things will never be the same again. Lanny is a woman with a past. Hers is a tale filled with a lot of dark and dangerous secrets, and after two hundred years of protecting her past, she has now decided to share her story with Luke.

Read the full review on my blog: http://daisychainbookreviews.blogspot...
Profile Image for Kira.
1,234 reviews132 followers
March 15, 2016
DNF @22%

Some lame ass doctor (Luke) was wasting his life away in some small town in Maine. The police brought some bloody chick (Lennore) who murdered someone to the hospital. He listened to her story since she had supernatural healing abilities and he was intrigued. The book was so damn boring. The paranormal elements were practically nonexistent. The chapters from Luke's POV were in the present tense, and it made it awkward to read. The chapters from Lennore's POV took place in the 1800's when she was a kid. She was a naive kid who was obsessed in love with her friend Jonathan. He was a selfish, man whoring asshole. Other than his beauty and supposed charm, it was hard to understand why Lennore loved him. I did not give a fuck about any of these people. None of them had any depth.
Profile Image for Karina Halle.
Author 131 books15.7k followers
January 27, 2012
A spellbinding debut by Alma Katsu, but not without its flaws. I keep wavering between 3.5 and 4 stars but I suppose it doesn't matter since, in the end, I do recommend this book. Lanny and her story will captivate you from day one, and though she seems rather one-dimensional (even though half the book is told from her POV in the past) she will grow on you, as will the tales of her life before and after she meets "The Taker." Though there are many gruesome scenes in this book, particularly with sexual violence, because of Lanny's often flippant and selfish personality and the novels air of the supernatural, the acts don't hit AS seriously as they would in a straight, contemporary novel. Also, the matter-of-factness with her delivery does drive the point home that, back in the 1800s (or before), women really were treated like sexual slaves half the time.

Anyway, as frightening and gruesome as it was, there was something addicting and compelling about The Taker that kept the pages flying well past midnight. The book is advertised as "star-crossed lovers" and a "love story" but it's not what you think and that grouping doesn't do it justice. It's more like a one-sided love story build on obsession and desire - you won't find any happy, lovey-dovey feelings in this book. There's also a nice twist about one of the most vile characters you will ever come across - Adair certainly takes the cake, a true monster who is worse than he seems.

My complaints with The Taker lie with the present day character of Luke, who I found annoying and a wet noodle who doesn't really change enough to my liking. I also had personal issues with the present tense POV that, when focusing on two people, was sort of jarring - especially when juxtaposed with the flashbacks, but I guess that was the reason for it.

Also, the ending felt really rushed and wasn't as resolved as I would have liked. I really thought the author would have touched on some of the side characters that were important for most of the story, but she didn't. She didn't really resolve Adair either. And I would have thought Lanny would have found some greater redemption or something in the end. I don't know. With her and Luke, It just didn't work for me, it felt like it was like "Ah deadline! Let's end the story in two pages" and left me really unsatisfied. I've heard this might get turned into a movie and I hope the screenwriters can come up with a better, more focused ending.

Overall though, an entertaining, creepy and thought-provoking read.
Profile Image for Lisa.
48 reviews18 followers
June 7, 2012
It's been a while since a book has haunted me consistently like this one has/is. Even a few days after finishing it scenes suddenly flood my mind and emotions, sometimes making me pause in the middle of whatever I'm doing just so I can fully ponder it all.

'The Taker' is a dark, heart wrenching tale of unrequited love, obsession, and the price of immortality. (Yet, that seems a very weak summation.)

It's a romance, but nothing like your average romance. It's a paranormal, but everyone is human, just some of them are immortal (no powers). Lanore and Jonathan are young adults, but it's definitely not YA. It is severely tragic, but hopeful. 'The Taker' is unlike anything I've read in a long time.

At times the subject matter almost became so unbearably heartbreaking that I didn't know if I could take any more, but at the same time I was so compelled to know what the next page brought that putting it down (and leaving it down) was impossible.

There was a great deal of sexual content, nondescript, but much of it abusive (physical & emotional) or just plain wicked and indulgent on the part of the characters. It was clearly not *about* the sex with this book, though. Nothing escapist about it; the underlying sense of loneliness, desperation, or feeling of imprisonment within the characters was a tangible presence in all their actions and interactions.

Needless to say, I cried a lot. It stirred my emotions and provoked deep thought. I enjoy a good melancholy story where things sometimes just don't play out the way your heart aches for them to. (I guess it's the masochist in me.)

While I was right in the thick of it I was firmly decided that I did *not* want to read the next book, I just couldn't... however, by the time I reached the end I was chomping at the bit for book 2. (which isn't out until June, unfortunately)

The author, Alma Katsu, reassured me that the next 2 books in this trilogy will get lighter and have more romance as they go. Which only increases my level of anticipation for them!

Update: I changed my rating to 5 stars because that is a rating I only give to books that I want to, or feel compelled to read more than once. I couldn't resist reading this one again! And luckily I wasn't as much of a crybaby the 2nd time around. Not much longer til The Reckoning!
Profile Image for Barbara Elsborg.
Author 85 books1,621 followers
November 23, 2011
This reminded me of a "Discovery of Witches" - a story that didn't work for me. The Taker is supposed to be a sort of love story - but the problem is - there is no love in it - so I'm not sure how the book should be marketed. What passes for love is just deep infatuation and I never really believed in it. One part - near the end - when something very bad has happened, the heroine is so flat emotionally, I wanted to throw the book down. I think that's what the real issue is for me - no feeling - or not enough. Luke is just a device to enable the author to tell the story - as a story and it makes everything flat. The heroine is just narrating facts and I think it would worked better if we'd been allowed to follow everything through in the proper time sequence. Are we really supposed to believe that Luke - an educated man - would give up everything and do what he does without any questioning of what is happening. Well he questions a bit, but not nearly enough. Where was the wonder, the incredulity - not about her one act to prove she's different - but the complex involved tale of her past.
The violence, sex etc - was no issue for me - partly because there was no emotion involved. I just didn't care enough for the characters to bother when they didn't care enough for themselves.
And its the first of a trilogy?? I wish I'd known that and I wouldn't have read it. So obvious who's going to rear his ugly head in book two - but I won't be reading it.
I don't like being all negative about a book. I think the historical stuff was very interesting and I did like the idea of 'what' they were. I'd thought something else for a while. But the book went on too long to sustain the plot, such as it was.
Profile Image for JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust.
345 reviews579 followers
July 29, 2016

I had a ADORE/ dislike relationship with this book.

Will I be reading The Reckoning ? You betcha. One word---> ADAIR <3

I must percolate my thoughts. Full review to come.
Profile Image for Nadia.
29 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2013
"A love that is too strong can turn poisonous and bring great unhappiness. And then, what is the remedy? Can you unlearn your heart's desire? Can you stop loving someone? Easier to drown yourself, Sophia seemed to be telling me; easier to take the lover's leap."

"I was insecure around him and always would be, the burden of my love like astone manacled to my neck."

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was well written. It reminded me somewhat of Twilight - in the sense that the girl thinks nothing of herself and goes on about how perfect her true love, Jonathan, is. Even the man she meets at the beginning of the book gushes over Jonathan (that was a little weird).

I thought the story was extremely sad and I'm looking forward to reading the second installment.

The story centres around Lanny who is brought into the ER after having been found covered in blood and admitting to killing a man. Luke, the physician, immediately takes to her... Lanny then continues to tell her tale of unrequited love and how she became to be an immortal.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,247 reviews385 followers
August 3, 2021
This book didn't work for me at all. Didn't enjoy any of it and I'm not sure why I didn't DNF it. Don't have much to say other than I'm happy am done with it and will definitely not read anything more if it's a series
Profile Image for Sinem Dipli.
129 reviews4 followers
June 22, 2019
Umutsuzluk kitabı. Hiçbir şey mi yolunda gitmez. Akıcı bir kitaptı. Sevsem mi uyuz mu olsam bilemedim
Profile Image for Valentina "TinchyB" .
348 reviews71 followers
February 2, 2014
Ovu knjigu nemojte počinjati čitati prije spavanja,ni za živu glavu!Jer ako ste imalo book nerd kao ja,prije neg se okrenete sku��iti ćete da je jutro,a vi ne da niste oka sklopili nego tek sklapate korice knjige.

Ja sam ovu knjigu dozivjela podvojeno...U jednu ruku sam oduševljena autoričinom naracijom(na mjestima me podsjeća na Hoffmanicu,a Hoffmanicu jednostavno obožavam) i originalnom pričom(besmrtnost a da nisu vampiri u pitanju),dok sam u drugu ruku zbunjena kako si netko može dozvoliti da mu se dogodi sve to što se desilo našoj junakinji.

Knjiga je mračna i morbidna,oda svim pesimistima i onima koji ne vjeruju u vječnu i svemoguću ljubav.Autorica nam kroz potresan život mlade Lanore pokazuje kako nam ljubav može uništiti život,pogotovo ovakva neuzvračena kao u našoj priči.Pokazuje nam kako jedan okrutan i sebičan postupak može čovjeku uništiti sve.A zamislite još da vam je život besmrtan i vječan...Naša Lanny svojom bolesnom odanošću Jonathanu gubi samu sebe i žene moje drage,nemojte si to dopustiti nikada!

Naša priča počinje u sadašnjosti,u bolnici,u gradiću St.Andrewu.Mjesni liječnik Luke Findley se treba pobrinuti za pacjenticu prekrivenu krvlju,osumnjičenu za ubojstvo.Nakon njezine čudne molbe,odluči je saslušati.I tu počinje prava priča...

Sve je počelo davno,točnije 1908.godine i počinje jednim poljupcem iza crkve.Lanny ima 12 godina i zaljubljena je u Jonathana,sina najbogatijeg čovjeka u selu.Njihova ljubavna priča je od samog početka osuđena na propast jer ne samo sto je ona siromašna,a on sin osnivača mjesta,nego je on okorjeli ženskaroš koji trči za svakom suknjom u selu.Nakon kratke ljubavne afere,ona ostane trudna i otac je šalje u Boston,u samostan,da rodi dijete i ostavi ga tamo.Spletom okolnosti,ona do samostana nije stigla već završi u kući strave u rukama Adaira,okrutnog sadista.Već prve noći je nemilosrdno silovana i pretučena(naime,autorica uporno preskače ove khm khm dijelove i ne ulazi u detaljne opise,već sve ostavlja čitateljevoj mašti,tako da Bog sami i ona stvarno znaju što se ustvari desilo našoj Lenny te noći).Nakon umale smrti,Adair joj nudi eliksir besmrtnosti u zauzvrat za njezinu dušu i tijelo.Tu naša priča postaje zapetljana,vodi nas do Adairove prošlosti i opisuje nam njegov sadistički i seksom ispunjeni način života,kojem Lenny nema druge nego se prepustiti.Samo,još uvijek ne u potpunosti...jer njeno srce i dalje pripada Jonathanu.

U cijeloj ovoj priči sam htjela ući u knjigu i išamarati pojedine likove.Jonathana pogotovo,jer toliko problema i muke oko jednog muškarca koji razmišlja onom stvari i ne misli na posljedice.I naravno na samu Lenny i način na koji si je dopustila da joj ta bolesna zaluđenost dirigira životom.

Možda sam malo preoštra u ovom svom reviewu,ali knjiga me je emocionalno dotukla.Natjerala me na razmišljanje i nakon nje stvarno trebam nešto lagano i za raspamečivanje očajnih kučanica.Ne znam da bi podnjela dvie ovakve u istom tjednu.

Svakako je preporučujem za čitanje i dajem joj veliku četvorku.Petica bi bila da autorica nije škrtarila na detaljima,na onim osjetljivim mjestima.Ali pošto joj je ovo prvi roman,oprostit ću joj-ovaj put!
Profile Image for Joy (joyous reads).
1,460 reviews290 followers
July 13, 2016
This was a very interesting take on immortality. The cover and title imply of something sinister, so my first impression/expectation upon seeing this book was vampires. Since they’re virtually the only creatures I know that can live several lifetimes, my uncreative mind immediately jumped to this assumption. Of course I was severely mistaken.

The Taker was an atmospheric novel about a girl who’d fallen on hard times at a time (1800s) when pregnancy out of wedlock was mortal sin. But that’s not how this book started. This book started in present time when she was picked up by cops wandering the streets bloodied, and with claims that she’d just killed someone.

She was brought to the hospital where she meets Dr. Luke Findlay, a man who had just gone through a series of bad luck himself. He was inexplicably drawn to the young woman. She was charming, enigmatic and had the gift of persuasion. There was very little she could ask that Luke wouldn’t give her, including, escaping the cops that took her. It was during the escape that she tells her story to Luke: how she became who she is and the stories of people that created her. It was a history hundreds and hundreds of years in the making; a lonely existence of debauchery, excess and unrequited love. And more importantly, the alchemy that provided her a life without end.

Alma Katsu is a brilliant story teller. This introduction had me in its grips from page one. It was rich in gothic-inspired history shrouded in a cloud of dark mystery. It was a vivid imagery of how brutal and punishing love could be, and how quickly we all become victim to weakness and vanity.

So why the middle of the grade rating? One word: characters. I’ve never been a fan of characters (mostly heroines) who were so blinded by love that their actions make them weaklings. And Lanore McIlvrae is perhaps the poster girl for heroines with this affliction. There wasn’t much she wouldn’t give to “her eternal love” regardless of how fruitless her efforts were. Lanore was the classic example of a woman who’s incredibly brave and weak at the same time. She was a mixture of both, but I have to admit that her unrequited love made her every bit the weakling the I couldn’t admire.

Despite the rough start, I still think this could be the beginning of a fantastic series. And the ending, though, finished by all rights, left an ominous cloud that had me fearing and wanting the next book in the same breath.
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