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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Review: THE TAKEN, Casey Kelleher

The Taken, by Casey Kelleher. Reviewed by Barbara Copperthwaite

“Well-written, meticulously-researched, brilliantly-woven, hard-hitting book with a nail-biting ending”


When you’ve lost everything, you’ll do anything to survive.

Saskia Frost’s world is blown apart when her dad dies. Without any family, she’s on her own now and up to her eyeballs in her father’s debts. He owed a lot of money to some very dangerous men – Joshua and Vincent Harper. Before long, aspiring ballerina Saskia finds herself lap-dancing in a London club to survive. A club run by the infamous Harper brothers. Saskia is now their property and they’re going to make her pay every penny back.

Teenager Lena Cona has fled a cruel and controlling marriage. She arrives in England with her newborn daughter, desperately relying on strangers for help. But she soon learns that not everyone can be trusted as she finds herself caught in the clutches of Colin Jefferies, a twisted individual obsessed by his own sinister secrets. As the sickening truth is revealed, Lena is forced to fight for her life - and her baby’s.

When their worlds collide, Lena and Saskia form an unlikely friendship. But with the terrifying Harper brothers on their tail, as well as Lena’s vengeful and violent husband, can they escape with their lives?


This isn’t the sort of story I usually read. At first it sat uncomfortably with me, I have to admit. But as I got more into it, I wondered how the characters’ stories would interweave when they were so different, and how on earth this tale would be wrapped up satisfactorily. As a result, I gobbled this book up in one day!

There is a warning on the front cover that this book isn’t for the faint hearted, and do take heed. There is a lot of swearing. And I mean a LOT. But then, this is a gritty tale of human traffickers, gangsters, and murderers, so it was never going to include moonlight and roses.

The subject matter itself is dealt with in a hard-hitting manner, too. Do not expect a gloss over details; The Taken includes rape scenes, beatings, images of what life is like in The Jungle at Calais, the casual death of a child… Much of it is inspired by true events which have been woven together. It’s upsetting being faced with it, and the venomous racism thrown at immigrants sometimes.

Did I enjoy The Taken? Not completely, if I’m honest. It’s too uncomfortably near the truth for me to find it entertaining. Do I think it is a well-written, meticulously-researched, brilliantly-woven, hard-hitting book with a nail-biting ending that will have you on the edge of your seat? Yes, absolutely. For fans of this type of novel, it is an absolute must read. You’re in for a treat. Me? I’m off for a lie down after that!

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