Published by Berkley Books on July 16th 2019
Critically acclaimed author Alex Dahl explores how love can turn darkly sinister when a desperate mother looks to reconnect with her lost daughter in this riveting Norwegian set psychological suspense novel.Two mothers. Two daughters. One heart.
When Alison's beloved daughter Amalie drowns, her world turns impenetrably dark. Alison tries to hold it together throughout the bleak Fall, but in the darkest days of the Norwegian Winter she completely falls apart.
In another family, Amalie's passing is a new beginning. After years of severe health problems, young Kaia receives a new heart on the morning after Amalie drowns. Her mother Iselin has struggled to raise Kaia on her own and now things are finally looking up. She's even made an affluent new friend who's taken a special interest in her and her daughter.
Alison knows she shouldn't interfere, but really, she's just trying to help Iselin and Kaia. She can give them the life they never had, and by staying close to them, she can still be with her daughter. Kaia is just like her, and surely, something of Amalie must live on in her. As her grief transforms into a terrifying obsession, Alison won't let anything stop her from getting back what she has lost.
I’ll first start by saying that I loved Alex Dahl’s debut, The Boy at the Door. Therefore, it was an absolute no-brainer when I was asked to join the blog tour for her sophomore novel, The Heart Keeper. It would have been an immediate yes regardless of what she’d written. When I found out that this book was centered around a greiving mother who had chosen to donate her daughter’s organs after her tragic death, I was beyond intrigued. I was in tears after reading only the synopsis and acknowledgments. It promised to be an original and emotional story and it didn’t disappoint.
The characters are all well-developed. I had no difficulty feeling empathy for both Alison and Iselin. Alex Dahl did an amazing job of balancing their positive and negative attributes which served to make them very believable. She also did an excellent job of illustrating the fragility of a marriage after the loss of a child. Oliver, Alison’s stepson, was my favorite character. He was just so loving, and good. My heart broke for him but he’d the kind of kid I know will be okay.
I don’t want to rehash the synopsis or lead you in any direction in terms of plot. Based on the synopsis, and where I thought the characters were headed, I thought things were going to shake out somewhat differently. I was happy to have been led astray. I’ll just say that this is more of a domestic suspense with a fair amount of twists which suited me just fine. The deep emotionality revolving around motherhood and grief makes The Heart Keeper a perfect fit for readers of traditional women’s fiction who are looking to up their suspense reading game.
The nurse and science junky in me loved learning about cellular memory as it relates to organ transplant patients. Here is just one of many articles describing this fascinating phenomenon. I could write several pages about my feelings on organ transplantation alone but let’s just say I’m PRO and, when and if the time comes to make that decision, my family knows I want to be scattered far and wide. Indulge me a moment to be preachy here: PLEASE make sure your family knows your wishes. It is NOT enough to have it written on your driver’s license.
Congratulations to Alex Dahl on another winner! I’m already looking forward to her next book.
Many thanks to Berkley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Jennifer Tar Heel Reader says
So beautiful and well-said. Ann Marie! I also want my organs to be shared to anyone who needs them. I love this book, too. Dahl is becoming the master of emotional thrillers! Loved your review!
Ann Marie says
Thank you so much, Jennifer! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed this one too. I think you’re right about Dahl – This book definitely made her an auto-read author for me.