What’s it about?
“Where are you, Madison Culver? Flying with the angels, a silver speck on a wing? Are you dreaming, buried under snow? Or–is it possible–you are still alive?”
Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight-years-old now–if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as “the Child Finder,” Naomi is their last hope.
Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl, too.
As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?
Told in the alternating voices of Naomi and a deeply imaginative child, The Child Finder is a breathtaking, exquisitely rendered literary page-turner about redemption, the line between reality and memories and dreams, and the human capacity to survive.
First of all, can I just say that I really love this cover? I like the other (white) cover as well but the addition of this ‘blueish tinged veil with a speck of gold’ gives it something more, something magical, and it only added more delight to my reading experience with this extra touch because it’s very much in line with the writing itself.
The Child Finder is told mostly through the voices of Naomi and Madison. Naomi, once a lost girl herself, is The Child Finder. She’s gifted in some way and has a high success rate in finding missing children through her methodical searches, even if it means they’re not always found alive. Although she only takes one case at a time and there’s no rhyme which case she’s going to take – it’s certainly not about the money – she is actually looking for two children in this novel. The children went missing under different circumstances and it demonstrated perfectly how different some cases are regarded and how you can be treated and regarded by the police and public eye if you don’t fit into the mold.. at the end of the day there are just two equally distraught mothers. Thankfully, Naomi is a good and righteous person and her past (or lack of a past because she can’t remember anything before the age of 9) makes her untrusting of most people but also more objective.
I liked reading about Naomi’s search and I rooted for her to get on the right track and find these children but it were really little Madison’s entries that put a magic spell on me. She imagines herself as a Snow Child because she’s fond of fairy tales and it’s her way to cope with her captivity and Mr. B. The way that she told herself things in order to survive her imprisonment was enthralling. Even though the abuse is veiled and Mr. B in his own twisted way really likes the girl there is no doubt that Mr. B is not a good man at all. Mr. B’s character, who he is and where he came from, stays pretty much in the shadows until the end of the novel and I really wasn’t expecting it to pull at my heart as well when all was said and done. I really didn’t want it to but I couldn’t help it.. how bad is it if you find yourself caring for the villain? It is seriously twisted I know, and it takes one helluva writer.
There is so much to be found in this story. There were also interesting parrallels in present and past for Naomi and Madison and while Naomi’s looking for Madison I had the feeling that she was looking for herself too in some way and she was ready to find out the truth about herself. The further she gets in the investigation the more prominent little flashes of her past float to the surface and the more I wanted to found out more. Did she also survive a Mr.B? Where was her mother? Who is with her in her dreams?
“The dream was like a dark demon, bringing with it scraps of the past. It was hard to tell what was a skeleton to be buried – or a treasure to be revealed.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t feel I really got and understood Naomi at all times. Running away from finding out her past, being scared of the unknown just didn’t seem in line with her strong character. And why would you run from a good thing in your life and the only person you trust? I was a little disappointed because Naomi’s memory loss was actually the second big plotline. She doesn’t remember anything from before the moment she was running in a field at the age of 9 and was found by nomads. She only has nightmares that show her fleeting glimpses of a past that she can’t get a hold on. I felt the ending of this plotline was largely unresolved. I actually hoped I’d get more answers in this novel. I know I know, it might have taken us too far, adding another 100 pages to the novel, but I really wouldn’t have minded at all :-).
Overall, this was a haunting story, beautiful but horrific. I haven’t read Denfeld’s first novel The Enchanted yet but this novel certainly gives me reason to want to read more books by this author.
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.