The Reckoning is the second book in The Taker trilogy. My review of The Taker is here.
The Reckoning picks up where the first book in The Taker trilogy left off — with Lanny running away from Adair, the man who bestowed eternal life upon her. After escaping the small cell Lanny imprisoned him in, Adair is now free and looking to exact revenge on Lanny, the woman he supposedly loves and has convinced himself he cannot live without.
Lanny is on the run with her new love Luke trying not only to avoid criminal charges for murder back in Maine but also any last vestige of her previous life. The last 200 years, while memorable for numerous reasons and punctuated with the odd famous individual or well-known events, have also been filled with terror for her. She knows that the prison holding her former lover, and tormentor, Adair, may break at any time and he will come looking for her. When the day Lanny most dreaded arrives and Adair is freed, she tried to impress on everyone in her life, current and past acquaintances, that Adair being free is more than a simple matter of hiding. She knows he will find her and she doesn’t want to let that happen knowing only years of pain, fear, and humiliation will be hers to endure. Thanks to her immortality, death will never be a release from the nightmare she knows awaits her.
Luke doesn’t understand her fear, and not having ever known Adair or anyone else from Lanny’s past, he believes her fear to be irrational. Knowing she can’t have Luke found by Adair, Lanny leaves him to search out the others and hopefully find answers and some solace in their company. What Lanny finds is not at all what she expected.
As in the first book in this series, The Taker, a good deal of the story is told through flashbacks of Lanny and Adair’s lives. They spend days thinking over their pasts and wondering where it got them. This is especially true in the case of Adair, who after 200 years of imprisonment is now part of a world that doesn’t conform to his style of living. For a man with freedom, he seems oddly intimidated by it —- he can’t frighten the world and its people into submission. Even the ones he has bestowed eternity upon aren’t as he remembered.
While Adair is trying to form some sense of identity (and search out Lanny to exact vengeance for locking him behind stone) Lanny is looking for some sort of forgiveness. I have to admit that I felt some of the characters, Adair in particular, changed too much and too little all at the same time. Adair is a monster, to be certain, a man obsessed with a woman he’s tortured physically and mentally, and, yet, he can’t understand why she wants him buried behind a stone wall. Of course, any time he becomes soft hearted, you’re immediately reminded of his past actions. Katsu doesn’t let you forget you aren’t supposed to like Adair.
At the end of The Taker, I was wondering where Katsu would take this story and now at the end of The Reckoning, I’m feeling much the same curiosity. I think Katsu has a skill for building characters with extensive pasts that continue to fascinate. In many ways, I was left guessing as to what the truth was and what was told to impress or scare. The characters all walk fine lines. They may be immortal but they’re all part of a mortal world that most likely wouldn’t understand or accept them. Most find ways to blend in and survive but I still can’t get past their actions. It’s a character driven story with incredibly interesting and sometimes hateful characters and that’s keeping me firmly attached to the story.
If you’re interested in The Reckoning, start with The Taker. This is a story best read from the beginning. It’s a tale of obsession, love, and fear among immortals who can’t be harmed by the trials of life but who manage to do a number on each other. You’ll need all the gory details to understand why waiting on the final book in this series will feel like an eternity.
By Alma Katsu