[538]: The Taker by Alma Katsu


GOODREADS SUMMARY | Simon & Schuster | Hardcover, 438 pp. | April 11th, 2011 | Adult Fiction | Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

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. Β 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.Β 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.


  • The story definitely sounds intriguing, but just like you- I’m a little put off by the portrayal of the main female character, because I’m not a fan of weak characters. Hm…

    • Well, it has a lot going for it, too. And I feel like things will improve in the next two books. πŸ™‚

  • Love the atmospheric, gothic setting and writing Joy, but yeah, characters who throw everything away for love have me cautious… Awesome review though!

  • I think I would really like this book. Firstly, I love that cover. And then the idea of learning about this woman’s history is so intriguing, and I am sure she has gone through a whole lot in her past as well. I don’t think the blinding love would bother me too much? At least, I hope it wouldn’t, because I do want to try this one ^^

    • The funny thing is, the book is not that big. I mean, if you’ll consider she’s at least a century old, so it only makes sense that she’ll have a lot of history to tell.

  • IΒ΄ve seen this book before but I thought that it was a standalone. It sounds really interesting, I like books about inmortality.

    • It sure is. I love the spin on immortality, for sure. πŸ™‚

  • You had me at: “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.” I’ve had my eye on this series for a while now and I love the atmospheric – gothic sound you described in it. I’m somewhat tolerant of imperfect heroines who (hopefully) have room for growth – so I’m definitely going to keep my eye on this series πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! You’ll need to bring a lot of that tolerance then. πŸ™‚

  • Sounds really intriguing. Not sure if it’s my cup of tea but I’m tempted. Great review!

    • Thanks, Jaz. Not for everyone, for sure. πŸ™‚

  • Lauren Becker

    I wouldn’t have thought this was a series, but that’s interesting! I hope you like the second book better if you DO check it out. Sounds like an intriguing book overall, but you’re right, I don’t like heroines that are ALL about their one true love.


    • Especially in her instance where she’s an immortal and pining for that one guy for years and years. It’s just not normal!

  • Wonderful review. I’ve had my eyes on this one ever since it came out but for some reason I keep forgetting to read it. I like the premise of the story. It seems interesting. Sadly, I know what you mean about the heroine and I’m not sure I’ll enjoy her character either. Still, good review. Glad you liked it a bit πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Shane. I hope you’ll give it a chance one day. It really is a good story, you just have to be a bit more patient with the characters.:)

  • That’s why I can no longer enjoy juvenile/ya fantasy as much as I used to. I can’t seem to turn a blind eye on the follies of young love. Maybe I’m getting older, but I find I’m no longer as sympathetic to these teenagers as I used to be.

    • I hit Post too soon…

      So, even if Lanore isn’t a teenager anymore, she does sounds like she acted like one. Then again, maybe it’s her desperation that led her to act all heart?

      At least the atmospheric setting made up for the otherwise (slightly) annoying Lenore…

      • I say this novel has a lot going for it despite that annoying little character flaw! πŸ™‚

    • Sigh. Unfortunately, young or old, love make follies of us all. Case in point: these two are mature adults.

  • Stunning review Joy πŸ˜€ I’m glad you liked this book a lot. But ugh, main girl sounds so annoying. “unrequited love” too? That sounds so bad, lol. Not a book for me πŸ˜€ But oh, I love love love that you are reading a lot of “older” books. <3 I must read my old books too soonish.. I just have read so little lately :\ Sigh. But so busy all the time πŸ™‚ Anyway. Thank you for sharing about this one. <3

  • Thanks for the heads up about the rough start. I have had this in my TBR pile for a really long time now. I think I will like this more if I know it is a rough beginning but has promise.

    • The bigger picture? It’s a fantastic novel and a great start. You just need to be patient. πŸ™‚

  • Props to the MC for being so darn strong even with her pregnancy out of wedlock and the fact that it was a mortal sin. Man, I don’t know what I would have done. And when you say she was a weakling for love do you mean she sacrificed for him with no regard to her safety? Or that she was just so weak she did anything for him to please him? Just curious. πŸ™‚

    • Oh sigh. Love makes a fool out of us. Even more so with this woman.

  • RO

    As soon as I saw the 3 rating, I was like…uh oh(lol), but this book sounds really good,and one that I would pick up. The characterization doesn’t bother me that much in this instance, because it just reminds me of what happens with women in love who have been abused, and it’s a tough situation. Emotionally drained, they do almost anything to please the person in an attempt to win them over, at the expense of losing themselves.Your review was wonderful, and once again, love the pic. Hugs…

    • You definitely would have a better perspective since you have a background in the subject. And for a few moments there, the characters saddle that line.

  • Faye M.

    Whoa! I actually like the sound of this book despite the heroine’s being a frustration galore. It sounds very deep and complex, and I like that it focuses a lot on how the girl became who she is at the start of the book.. the “hundreds of years of stories” intriged me from the get-go. Added it to my TBR πŸ˜€

    Faye at The Social Potato

    • The beginning was like a quick draw, for sure. I was caught in it on the get go. Thanks, Faye! I hope you’ll enjoy. πŸ™‚

  • Wow this sounds very creative, Joy! And immortals that aren’t vampires? I sure am intrigued.
    It’s really a shame though that the characters dropped the rating for you a little, but I completely get what you’re saying. I struggle with characters when the romances make them weak too.
    I’ve never read a book by Alma Katsu, but I’m intrigued!
    Great review!

    • Thanks, Nick. Ingenious is a word that comes to mind. And since I don’t read too many books about alchemy, it’s also why i found this book to be that much more enjoyable regardless of the characters.

  • I loved this entire series, but you’re right: “fear” is an appropriate word. It’s not a book for the faint of heart for sure. But Katsu writes so beautifully, I was mesmerized and horrified at the same time.

    • That’s great to hear, Tammy. I’ve barely started the second book, but I’m wholly intrigued!

  • Ugh, I hate when authors write female characters as obsessed with love and willing to do anything to get it. I would have problems with that character as well.

    • Right? So annoying. I suppose it’s their way of making them appear more realistic. But it’s still annoying, nonetheless.

  • I am intrigued, even with the rough start

    • I think you’ll like this series. πŸ™‚

  • It’s too bad that despite the story being good, you had a problem with the characters… I haven’t read a book by the author yet but I heard great things about her. Maybe one day.