Book Review: The Reckoning (The Taker Trilogy #2) by Alma Katsu

The Reckoning (The Taker, #2)The Reckoning by Alma Katsu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:   A love triangle spanning 200 years…Alma Katsu takes readers on a breathtaking journey through the landscape of the heart.


Lanore McIlvrae is the kind of woman who will do anything for love. Including imprisoning the man who loves her behind a wall of brick and stone. 

She had no choice but to entomb Adair, her nemesis, to save Jonathan, the boy she grew up with in a remote Maine town in the early 1800s and the man she thought she would be with forever. But Adair had other plans for her. He used his mysterious, otherworldly powers to give her eternal life, but Lanore learned too late that there was a price for this gift: to spend eternity with him. And though he is handsome and charming, behind Adair’s seductive faΓ§ade is the stuff of nightmares. He is a monster in the flesh, and he wants Lanore to love him for all of time. 

Now, two hundred years after imprisoning Adair, Lanore is trying to atone for her sins. She has given away the treasures she’s collected over her many lifetimes in order to purge her past and clear the way for a future with her new lover, Luke Findley. But, while viewing these items at an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Lanore suddenly is aware that the thing she’s been dreading for two hundred years has caught up to her: Adair has escaped from his prison. He’s free— and he will come looking for her. And she has no idea how she will save herself. 

This is the second installment in The Taker trilogy & honestly, it should have been called "The Waiting" because that's all you're doing in anticipation of the reunion of Lanore/Adair after his 200 year entombment by her hand. If that's your huge draw, then just read the last 75-50 pages and satisfy yourself. It'll give you enough of the gist & give the payoff quickly enough. If you're really only in for the reunion, read the last 25 or so pages (it's heartbreaking). This was a lot of buildup & considering that this is a shorter book than The Taker, it's a bit torturous. If you're down with the torture, take in every page & savor it selfishly. I put this down many times to make it last because I know there's going to be a year for the finale to arrive & that pains me.

We pick up right where the Taker left off & Lanore is attending the exhibit of all her treasures at the museum with Luke (the doctor who helped her abscond St. Andrew in the first book) & she feels that old familiar hum in the back of her head. She realizes it's Adair & she's in a right panic. So begins her flight because she knows that Adair will be coming for her. She abandon's Luke & heads for Casablanca. We are introduced to Saava, another immortal & learn about him & the time in the past that he & Lenore spent together. His life is sad & wretched but I found him to be an important character to come to know. Through the flashbacks Lanore comes to realize that she has always loved Adair & the men she found herself most drawn to & deeply loved (& who loved her back) were not like Jonathan, they were like Adair. As much of a brain-twister as that proves to be, she needs to get on because that does not change that she's sure Adair is going to come & exact his revenge.

Back in Boston, Adair is freed from his entombment & as is to be expected, is having a difficult time adjusting to how much the world has changed in 200 years. Jude is his guide here & it's a frustrating, sometimes farcical & other times sad, to watch Adair try to get his new bearings. He is singly set on finding Lanore & at times seems unhinged. I often worried as much as Jude that Adair would do something & find himself caught up by a police investigation. He had no willingness to take to heart that he couldn't just act the way he had before, now that we have cameras, forensics & such. Killing, menacing & stealing are generally not the best way to go, especially when it's Adair doing it, as he does these things on impulse & doesn't even think about the clean up. And it made things no easier as Adair found it too much to take direction from Jude or anyone who had been subservient to him before. Two-hundred years had changed everyone in some ways & Adair's realization took some time to catch up. Adair does find that he is incapable of exacting bloody revenge on Lanore because he is too much in love with her, to the point of distraction & obsession (a thing that led him to being open to being betrayed by her in the first place). Such complication! I was glad & horrified to find out the details of what happened to the peasant boy Adair, that we learn of in the first book & am hoping that wrong can be righted in the final book because it is one of the things that has happened that disturbs me most.

Now, I will admit that I've never been a Jonathan fan & frankly was glad to be rid of his bland-but-beautiful existence by the end of The Taker. So when Adair went about to resurrect him, I was a bit perturbed. Happily, Jonathan doesn't reconstitute to his former perfection & actually turned into a more interesting person. Death gave him more of a personality & I found that I liked him. He still came out with some eye-roll comments, like how his having had sex with Lanore was only done because it was what she wanted & he was just trying to be a nice guy. Whatevs. This is the guy that shagged everything in a skirt that would stand still long enough, but the sex with Lanore was his one noble act? Anyway, excepting that, Jonathan has some interesting insights to impart & a very cryptic mention of "The Queen of the Underworld". I'm hoping that since this mention fills Adair with a good bit of dread, we'll be seeing this being in the last book of the series. I found the idea that even the Queen of the Underworld is so taken with Jonathan's beauty a bit more than I could buy into. Surely deities have seen all manner of perfection & are they themselves so, but even they are struck & moved by Jonathan as to be just as singularly co-opted to possess him as Lanore? M'mkay. If you say so. By this book's end, Jonathan has been dispatched once again & I can only hope that everyone will just let him rest now & not trot out his reanimated head or whatever in the final book.

We get to see Alejandro & Tilde (where's Dona?) while Lanore is on her search to find out what she can do to keep herself from the wrath of Adair. Alej & Tilde have tragic lives once you delve beneath the surface & we find out how much they suffered when Lanore & Jonathan got rid of Adair & left them to nothing. I could see how it pained Alej still & it was sadder still that Lanore had never given a second thought how her actions & drive to save Jonathan would affect or damn anyone else. She told herself that she'd done them a favor but she wasn't the one left penniless & wondering, was she? As often is the case with Lanore, her reasons are self-serving & excused by her. It is never until she is confronted with those she's wronged with the truth of who she is, that she seems to be able to stop & see it. I could completely understand why Alej & Tilde double-crossed her this time. It's not just about Adair, she wronged them as well.

And then there's Luke. I saw the point of him in the first book as we needed Lanore to tell someone her story. But now in book two, I just don't give a darn about his dead parents, divorce or his obsession with Lanore. I don't buy her being in love with him either. I understand what it's supposed to be but I just don't believe it. Luke is cloyingly earnest, whiny & more pathetic than anything & I can't see Lanore loving him. I can't stand him & don't find anything in him to adore. Frankly, I was hoping Adair would kill Luke so I could be sure I wouldn't have to deal with his wet personality in the final book.

This was well worth the read but not what you don't usually get from second books in a trilogy. You know something big is coming & this is just the bridge. And the way this one ends is enough to want you to will another five pages to properly whisk you off to 1038.

A word about the cover. I have a beautiful cover with a golden filigree & a bottle of what I can only surmise is the immortality elixir that Adair makes, golden flecks in the bottom & all. I love it & it matches well with the hardcover copy of The Taker. I keep seeing these other covers that are very YA-like & I can't stand them. First of all, who are all these chicas with long dark hair?! They can't be the embodiment of Lanore, she's blond with curls. The US cover with the blue-eyed brunette (I'm going by her very dark eyebrows here) & feathers aplenty, can't be Lanore either. I know it's not Tilde, she's another blonde. So unless this is Alej in drag, I need for this nonsense to cease. Do the people making the covers, even read these books? Does the author get any say at all? As a reader, it makes me ranty but I am glad that I'm not going to have to be subjected to purchasing one of those covers & hope that I'm saved at the end of the trilogy. I'd like one more filigreed cover to match my other two.

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