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?
There’s always a feeling of disappointment when everyone loves a book and you don’t. Especially if that book has been recommended to you by more than one person. I think my expectations were simply too high when I started reading The Child Finder and, unfortunately, the book didn’t quite live up to them.
This is one of those books that is pretty easy to review because I know exactly what I liked and what I didn’t. Let’s start with the positives. I absolutely loved the premise: a woman, “the child finder”. I loved Naomi’s dedication, her complete loyalty to the missing children, her “connection” with them. I especially loved how she took any case because missing children aren’t guilty of anything and simply deserve to be found.
I also enjoyed the “Snow Girl” narration. Those parts certainly reminded me a bit of The Marsh King’s Daughter, which I loved. And I really liked it when we found out what had really happened, although there wasn’t a shocking moment, it was more of a progressive discovery. It was heartbreaking and it made complete sense. On the other hand, the other storyline, the one about the missing baby was also tragic and I felt so bad for everyone involved.
While all of those elements worked for me, there were some details that prevented me from loving this book. First of all, I didn’t connect with the writing from the very beginning. I don’t know why, and I’m well aware that most of you loved Rene Denfeld’s style, but I found it kind of cheesy. I thought dialogues were unrealistic and I felt like she was trying to be meaningful and deep every single time. I don’t mind deep and meaningful and, for example, Chris Whitaker’s over-dramatic style worked for me in All The Wicked Girls, but here I didn’t believe any of it. I’m afraid there were a few eyerolls from my part.
The second thing that didn’t work for me was the love story. I found myself not really caring for their relationship. I didn’t really feel like I knew them at all and I didn’t think the love angle was necessary here. Again, everything was really cheesy when it came to their scenes. And well, lastly, I guess there will be a sequel (?) but there was a personal storyline that didn’t get its conclusion and I was kind of disappointed. I wanted to know!
All in all, I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I understand why most of you fell in love with it and I definitely think it’s unique, as it’s not a traditional mystery by any means, but at the same time I’m sad because I never felt the “spark”.