The Descent by Alma Katsu

Source: Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster
Paperback, 352 pages
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The Descent by Alma Katsu is the third and final installment in The Taker series (there could be spoilers), and it will blow readers away with its creativity, nuance, and multilayered story.  Book series tend to taper off for readers in terms of depth of story and the ability to surprise, but Katsu’s Taker series has transcended levels with each installment.  Exploring the darker side of humanity, tackling the idea of redemption, and exploring what it means to love and commit to something or someone who is a virtual mystery.

“Frightening things lurked in basements, and the fortress was no exception.  My knees went a little weak as I set off, but before long I managed to find a staircase.  Removing a candle from one of the sconces, I descended the stairs as quietly as possible, only too aware that any noise I made would rattle and rumble down the cavernous stairwell and let anyone within earshot know I was coming.  A slight draft wafted up from the bottom, which was lost in darkness.  The breeze carried a bitter tang of rot and decay.” (page 210)

Despite her fears and frightful beginnings with Adair, Lanore has been fighting her connection to him, but when nightmares surface about her childhood love, Jonathan, being tortured, she has little choice but to seek out the man she fears and desires.  Adair and Lanore have a relationship that is a force unlike any other, and while their relationship can be deeply satisfying, it can be frightening.  While her own walls have kept her from trusting and falling completely for him, Adair’s had time to do his own work to make himself worthy of her.  Tip-toeing around their feelings, Lanore and Adair also must confront the outside forces working against them, conspiring to not only keep them apart but also seeking revenge on Adair for his past transgressions.

Lanore McIlvrae has said herself that her immortality has made her immune to the emotional response many feel at the point of death, and even as she descends into the underworld, her fears are muted.  Confronting demons and her own past transgressions give her pause on her journey to save Jonathan, but she only begins to fear the worst when she comes face-to-face with the deadliest of nightmares — a god scorned.

Beyond the intricate relationships and the dark and unexpected past of Adair, Katsu has taken the time to weave in elemental powers, myths and legends, and witchcraft and magic so seamlessly that the world becomes real.  Her characters are dynamic and flawed, but at the same time redeemable — but only if they make unselfish choices even at the risk of losing their own lives and souls.  Shifting from Adair’s past in 1200s Italy and other time periods, Katsu provides a clearer picture of one of the most enigmatic and enthralling characters in this mind-bending novel.  She has crafted a novel that peers behind the veil between the human and spiritual world and demonstrates that even gods can make mistakes.  A stunning end to a brilliant trilogy.

About the Author:

Alma Katsu’s debut, The Taker, has been compared to the early work of Anne Rice, Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander for combining the historical, supernatural and fantasy in one story. The novel was named a Top Ten Debut Novel of 2011 by the American Library Association and rights have sold been in 16 languages. The Reckoning, the second book in the trilogy, was published in June 2012, and the third and final book, The Descent, will be published in January 2014. The Taker Trilogy is published by Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster and Century/Random House UK.  Katsu lives outside of Washington, DC with her husband, musician Bruce Katsu.  Visit her Website, Facebook page, and Twitter.

2nd book for 2014 European Reading Challenge; this is set in Italy.



2nd book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge


  1. There was a lot of buzz over that first book. I saw it everywhere but I haven’t seen much of the other books. The covers sort of turn me off.

    • I was pleased that these fantasy novels had a different angle, a more literary one. I was tiring of the werewolves and vampires, etc.

  2. Katsu is so nice but I don’t think this series is for me.

  3. Glad you enjoyed these books so much!

  4. Milly Quinones-juarbe says

    The Descent
    You learn that life is allway a change and a challenge, learning of the unknown, curiosity is the biggest lessons in life.and this book carried it all.