Wednesday, June 21, 2017

REVIEW: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Title: The Child Finder
Author: Rene Denfeld
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Acquired: E-arc acquired via Edelweiss
Goodreads: ADD

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?


I want to start off with trigger warnings. Because I've never started off that way, and I feel like you all deserve a fair warning before venturing into this book. If you read The Enchanted by this transformative author, you will know that her narratives are steeped in allusions of a disturbing nature. Disturbing to your very core, without ever really knowing if the feeling warrants it. Meaning, I read sentences in this novel that simultaneously soothed me, and made me DRY HEAVE with its implications. The Child Finder will take you by the hand and drag you to some pretty unpleasant places. So, now that you've been warned...

Madison is missing.

And Naomi knows a few things about being missing, especially if the fractured memories of her own tragic story can be trusted. 

Prompted by her unrivalled reputation in the criminal field as "The Child Finder", she is hired by Madison's parents to use her unique set of skills to find their daughter. The story then branches off into two perspectives, that of Naomi's herself, and the incredibly heart-wrenching view through Madison's eyes. And then even deeper it delves, as Naomi takes on an additional missing child case; as she chases the demons from her past. 

I want to say it was like coming back to an old friend, reading Denfeld's writing again. But at some point during this narrative I began to wonder when I was going to start feeling more connected to it all. I've donned the hat of "innocent bystander" quite a few times in my years of reading, and many of those times getting myself deeply involved without even realising it, but I couldn't do that with The Child Finder. I was interested, but I wasn't committed. I wanted to know the ending, but I wasn't in a rush to get there. I couldn't get a grasp on Naomi, nor could I accept the personality traits that Denfeld tried to convince me that Naomi had. "Friendly" was the one I had the biggest issue with, because truthfully, if it were up to me I would have been hard-pressed to help that woman if it didn't involve a child. She was off-putting, and a few degrees colder than I could comfortably handle. I just couldn't associate her obviously damaged psyche with her childhood trauma. I just needed MORE convincing, perhaps in the form of more character development. 

The added romance in this novel also rubbed me the wrong way, it seemed forced, contrived, a "love" story just to say that this narrative contained love. And filled with love it was, but not in the ways that you would ever want to encounter. Read The Child Finder for the sole reason of getting to know Madison and the imagined reality she weaves once she gets captured. It is here that you will remember why Denfeld blew your entire mind with her previous work. 

Read if you liked:  All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Key themes: controversial issues, mental illness, disassociation, sexual abuse




Click HERE to find out more about Rene on the "Biography" page of her website.



A huge thank-you to Harper for providing an e-arc of this book via Edelweiss for review.


  1. Great review! I just finished this one a struggled with some of the same issues you've mentioned.

    1. Thank you! Yeah, it really was a daunting read due to subject matter, but I will read EVERYTHING Rene Denfeld puts out. Can't wait for her next book.


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