“This gripping psychological thriller juxtaposes a sympathetic, relatable protagonist with top-shelf suspense that unfolds in the Michigan wilderness."
iBooks Best of 2017
"Helena’s ambivalence about her father is brilliantly, maddeningly done.”
Irish Times
"Exceptional . . . Helena’s conflicting emotions about her father and her own identity elevate this powerful story."
Publisher's Weekly
“Superb . . .When Dionne describes the swamp maples that make a cabin invisible from the air, or the way one digs chicory taproots, then washes, dries and grinds them to make a coffee substitute, it seems effortless, plain that her fluency has a deeper source than Wikipedia.”
The New York Times Book Review

Learn how Karen came to know so much about the wilderness setting that inspires her stories.

DIONNE (The Marsh King's Daughter) with burst
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017
Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a business that fills her days. But she also has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and despite her father’s sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too . . . until she learned precisely how savage he could be.

More than twenty years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn’t know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marsh. The police launch a manhunt, but Helena knows they don’t stand a chance. Knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King—because only one person was ever trained by him: his daughter.

“Subtle, brilliant, and mature . . . as good as a thriller can be.” – The New York Times Book Review
“Subtle, brilliant and mature . . . as good as a thriller can be.”
"Enthralling and terrifying. I couldn't put it down."
"Massively thrilling and utterly unputdownable."
"Dark, atmospheric, and beautifully written."

The Marsh King's Daughter will soon be a major motion picture!

The movie stars Daisy Ridley (Star Wars; Murder on the Orient Express) as Helena and Ben Mendelsohn (Star Wars; Bloodline) as her father, Jacob. The film is directed by Neil Burger (Divergent; Limitless) and produced by Black Bear Pictures (I Care a Lot; The Imitation Game) and Anonymous Content (Spotlight; The Revenant).


Coming in 2022! Sign up for Karen’s newsletter below to be the first to learn the movie’s release date!

A Publisher's Weekly Best Book of 2020!

Two generations of sisters. An unthinkable crime. A secret that could ruin a family.

For a decade and a half, Rachel Cunningham has chosen to lock herself away in a psychiatric facility, tortured by gaps in her memory and the certainty that she is responsible for her parents’ deaths. But when she learns new details about their murders, Rachel returns to the place where she once felt safest in a quest for answers: her family’s sprawling log cabin in the remote forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

As Rachel begins to uncover what really happened on the day her parents were murdered, she learns that home can be a place of unspeakable evil, and that the bond she shares with her sister might be the most poisonous of all.
“A devastating, magical realism–dusted psychological thriller . . . a haunting portrait of a family hurtling toward the tragic destiny they can foresee but are powerless to stop.”
“A terrifying thrill-ride. Karen Dionne is wickedly good at deception, deceit and misdirection and The Wicked Sister is seductively compelling. You will not stop reading.”
“Chilling and captivating, The Wicked Sister explores the complex layers of family bonds, guilt, and redemption. A beautifully written, haunting psychological thriller.”
“A chilling portrait of a psychopath that will shock and fascinate you. Dionne is a master storyteller who has crafted a terrifying thriller that will haunt you long after the last page is read.”


Library of Michigan 2018 Michigan Notable Book

Deadly Pleasures Magazine Barry Award, Best Novel 

Suspense Magazine Crimson Scribe Award, Best Novel of 2017

Crime Writers of North America Dashiell Hammett Prize (finalist)

Midwest Independent Booksellers Choice Award (finalist)

Mystery Readers International Macavity Award, Best Novel (nominated)

Salt Lake County Library Reader’s Choice Award (nominated)

iBooks – Favorites of 2017 

Hudson Booksellers – Best Books of 2017

Powell’s – Staff Top Fives of 2017

Library Journal – Best Thrillers of 2017

Shelf Awareness – Best Books of 2017

South Florida Sun-Sentinel – Best mystery novels of 2017

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Best Books of 2017

Irish Independent – Books of the Year Part 1

Bookpage – The 10 Best Audiobooks of 2017

The Morning Sun – Bestselling Books of 2017 by Michigan Authors (#1)

Eastern Norway Post – Best Books of 2017

Aunt Agathas Bookstore – Ann Arbor, Michigan Best of 2017

Murder by the Books – Houston, Texas – Best Books of 2017

Mystery by the Book – Portland, Oregon – Best Books of 2017

Saturn Booksellers – Gaylord, Michigan – Top 10 Best Books of 2017

Bookshop Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz, California – Best Fiction Books of 2017

Writer’s Block Bookstore – Winter Park, Florida – Best Books of 2017

McLean & Eakin – Petoskey, Michigan – Top Ten Fiction Bestsellers of 2017

Lisa Gardner – Favorite thriller of 2017

Joseph Finder – Top Picks from 2017

Gillian McAllister – Best Books of 2017

Clare Mackintosh – What Authors Recommend 2017, Part 1

Laura Marshall – What Authors Recommend 2017, Part 4

BOLO books blog – Best of 2017

Hungry for Good Books – Best novel of 2017

Reading Between the Pages – Top Ten of 2017

Crime Time (UK) – Jake Kerridge, The Daily Telegraph – Best of 2017

Crime Fiction Lover (UK) – Five Best Debuts of 2017

The Belgian Reviewer – Top Ten of 2017

Texas Girl Reads – Favorites of 2017

Pups_Pints_Pages – Top Five of 2017

The Misstery – Favorite Books of 2017, Top Psychological Thriller

If Only I Could Read Faster (UK) – Best Books of 2017

Escape from the ER – Top 3 of 2017 

AuntieEmWrites – Best Reads of 2017

Dee’s Rad Reads – Top Ten of 2017

Jessicamap Reviews – Top Reads for 2017

Kalamazoo Public Library – Staff Picks: Best of 2017

Cook County Memorial Library – Favorite Fiction of 2017

Multnomah County Library – Best Books of 2017

Vernon Area Public Library – 2017 Staff Picks

Jessica T.  – #libfaves17

Loud Library Lady – Most Memorable Books of 2017

Capital Area District Libraries – 2017 Year End Staff Picks


Karen draws heavily on her homesteading adventures in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to write her wilderness thrillers. Find out more about her experiences and how they shaped her writing.

Copyright © 2022 Karen Dionne - All Rights Reserved