The Child Finder

A Novel
Narrated by: Alyssa Bresnahan
Length: 8 hrs and 40 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,426 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A haunting, richly atmospheric, and deeply suspenseful novel from the acclaimed author of The Enchanted about an investigator who must use her unique insights to find a missing little girl.

"Where are you, Madison Culver? Flying with the angels, a silver speck on a wing? Are you dreaming, buried under snow? Or is it possible you are still alive?"

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?

Told in the alternating voices of Naomi and a deeply imaginative child, The Child Finder is a breathtaking, exquisitely rendered literary listen about redemption, the line between reality and memories and dreams, and the human capacity to survive.

©2017 Rene Denfeld (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The Strength to Survive


A very good author can tell even the hardest story to hear with merciful skill. Here is a novel, a hard story to participate in, where that admirable talent is wonderfully evident. How else could we endure a story that takes us into such dark places, and not feel overwrought? But Denfield accomplishes that merciful bit of magic and even sends us off into the light with an affirmation of strength and compassion. An author that works professionally with some of the most hardened criminals, Denfield could most likely load her novels with sensational graphic details uglier than even the fiction of Karin Slaughter -- but Denfield is a very intelligent and talented author that works with real human beings in real situations. I learned from reading her previous novel, The Enchanted, that it is not her intent to spare the reader the horrible details, but rather a respect for the victims/survivors and their experience that drives her to elevate a story above cheap exploitation. She avoids the low road of sensationalism by pulling the reader into a story with characters and consequences that feel authentic. She expands the reader's ability to experience their own compassion in this story.

The Child Finder is a heart pounding, painful story beautifully and purposefully told. A little girl disappears in an isolated snowy forest. The distraught parents hire a *child finder* with a good recovery record to find out what might have happened to their little girl. There have been no clues for years, no bones, no signs found by the authorities looking for the child who seems to have just vanished. But the forest is dotted with old miner's encampments, families who have stayed in the area for generations, and former misanthropes that passed away leaving their secrets. The Child Finder has a special knowledge...her own experience of being abducted, her own secrets to atone for. The search is a race to save more than one life.

This is a sophisticated psychological thriller, with beautiful introspection and glimpses of humanity in the most hopeless situations. It will keep you on the edge of your seat, but you may find yourself being choked up as well as coping with a pounding heart. Denfield leads us to challenge our own constructs deeper with every thought. We may not change how we see evil when we finish this story, but we can begin to understand its complexities and how our judgements limit our capacity to understand.



34 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Kept asking questions

While the story’s premise is interesting, there were what seemed to me to be obvious questions. A recurring one was how a 5 yr old had such advanced powers of deduction & an advanced vocabulary while being in captivity for several years.

The main character’s final words of wisdom were pedestrian to the point of silliness and the author’s lead-in to her next book was a bit too obvious.

The value of a book like this for me is heightened awareness of these missing & exploited kids. For that, Denfeld is to be commended.

16 people found this helpful

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Beauty and Brutality, Haunting and Healing

I was blown away by this novel. The concept of the Child Finder herself was very unique and captivating, and the story, between different points of view, contained elements of magical realism that I have never experienced before. The writing was lush and exquisite, and the narrator did great justice to the author’s work. I became lost in this icy, haunted landscape as Naomi works in her subtle, quiet way to try to find a little girl who has been lost from the regular world for many years. The descriptive beauty of the words coming together to form such haunting, beautiful writing was brilliant, to me- as if each word carried meaning. The words could be strikingly painful, brutal while also profoundly touching and affecting, and redemptive. I loved this book and give it my highest recommendation!

20 people found this helpful

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  • SH
  • 10-04-17

One Dimensional

This book was filled with hints at deep dark back stories and hidden plot lines--but in the end, to me, the writing never reached beyond the obvious and the predictable. The characters remained flat and undeveloped no matter how much this reader tried to connect. The narration maintained the same unwavering degree of intensity throughout the story independent of what was happening at the time in the plot.

I found the whole thing exhausting and thought it felt like a contrived moody set up for a series. Be aware the book presents children in peril and suffering from extreme abuse. There is a strong feeling of voyeurism in the telling of this story. I am really sorry I wasted my time.

37 people found this helpful

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Intriguing premise, failed execution

First off, the narration in this book was very good. I think that's the only thing that kept me listening as long as I did.

The story has a really fascinating premise, to the point that I am kind of bothered by the fact that I don't know exactly how it ends. I can guess some general outcomes that a little sneak searching told me were correct, but part of me would still like to know how it shakes out. However, I gave up in chapter 7 I believe, mostly because I just hated the heroine so much. I was also not a fan of the prose, which struck me as overly melodramatic and flowery in many spots. The heroine was just selfish and much of the wilderness searching described was ridiculous and dangerous. I stopped after she apparently was too stupid to understand how a PLB works or why you should carry one when searching unfamiliar terrain alone without telling anyone where you're going and then recklessly almost kills herself (and then the ranger does a technical rope rescue without assistance? and she's been unconscious for a significant period of time in frigid weather and then is pretty much fine? that's not how any of that works!). It was too overwrought and unrealistic for me.

This book was recommended to me by several people who liked it so your mileage may vary, but it's the only book I've returned because I just didn't like it.

5 people found this helpful

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Awful<br />

this was so hard to finish. the writing was very poor. there were passages that were very choppy, sappy and just unbelievable I only kept reading initially hoping it was just the awful narration that made it tough to enjoy. then I forced myself to finish it but it was painful. skip it.

1 person found this helpful

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Would not recommend

This book has a slow start and it doesn’t peak the interest until the last two chapters and the ending is missing so much. I didn’t enjoy this book. It wasn’t a page turner and I’m disappointed it had amazing reviews.

1 person found this helpful

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Capitivating

I would say to read this story even though the subject matter could be difficult. In truth it was a very interesting story with a lot of different kinds of love. It also told of determination and perseverance and wherewithal. I don’t want to give anything away but hope.There were briefist moments of ick butThey were mild and very well handled. The prose, the descriptions of snow, homes memories ...were so wonderful. The author just really can write Little snippets that will entice your sight, sounds, smells, emotions. Just beautiful. I would also like to add that the reader has a wonderful voice for the story. She was the character to me and not just a person reading. Not really a recommend for book clubs but for a general read I think it is quite good

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Another great book

Renee Denfield is fast becoming one of my favorite authors, she is a master wordsmith. The story is intriguing and the narrator is fantastic, it might take a few minutes to get in sync with her voice but once you do you are hooked! Don't miss this!

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Why all the hype? This one left me flat.

An Audible listener for almost 20 years, this is the worst book I have listened to from start to finish. I can't figure out why I kept listening when the book is so predictable (and the reader so awful - too dramatic!) - after all the great reviews, hoping it would get better, I guess. Filled with hyperbole, innuendo, and stock characters, it is the furthest thing from literary fiction this English major can imagine. I don't often write reviews, but this book is so bad I wanted to warn others: If you like good literature, stay away from this one.

5 people found this helpful