A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

Ellis_AMapoftheDark_HCTitle: A Map of the Dark
Series: The Searchers #1
Author(s): Karen Ellis
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Format: ARC
Release Date: January 2nd 2018
Pages: 290
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
ISBN13: 9781473662773

Karen Ellis, pseudonym of author Katia Lief, releases a thriller mystery tale focused on a special agent with a disturbing past and a kidnapping of a teenager. One part police procedural and one part thriller, A Map of the Dark is a fast-paced story that delivers an emotionally-charged and highly personal hunt.

Elsa Myers is not your typical FBI agent. While her father is hospitalized with an illness that seeks to steal his life, she is assigned to take on a child abduction case that dusts off all the devastating things she has been through in her own childhood. The story features multiple point of views, as well as both past and present narrative. Chapters that explore the past of Elsa Myers especially highlight the protagonist’s damaged-self through her past relationship with her mother as well as the present residuals of her trauma. Short and extremely concise, they don’t make for an easy read with Karen Ellis’ ability to write convincing and powerful scenes showing us the consequences of abuse.


Although these chapters set in the past were interesting in making us further understand our damaged protagonist, they were oddly integrated and never truly felt fluid in the narrative. It didn’t help that there were also a couple of chapters interspersed within the story that offered readers the perspective of the kidnapped. As much as I wanted to truly enjoy this case, I felt like background of the main character overshadowed the main investigation and diluted its thrill. However, Elsa Myers was still a complex character whose baggage isn’t easy to read about. Her flaws are put in the foreground and became the main focus, and that unfortunately took away from the crime story that was being told.

Karen Ellis has an excellent writing style that is absolutely captivating. I did see the main twist coming that made the story accelerate considerably a little after the halfway mark, but the author delivers it masterly. In fact, I found that the action towards the end was remarkably developed. I won’t lie that it had me flipping through the pages at an uncontrollable speed. But everything before that twist felt like mud instead of water. It simply wasn’t easy or exciting to swim through. A Map of the Dark is a great new series to check out with its exploration of abuse ambitiously integrated within this child abduction story.

Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for sending me a copy for review!

You can order your own copy now!


Amazon (USA) – Amazon (Canada)Chapters IndigoBook Depository


Have you read it yet? Do you plan to? What do you think about A Map of the Dark?

Share your thoughts with me!

Till next time,




44 thoughts on “A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

  1. Hmm, on the hand this sounds really good, on the other hand the things you describe for some of the scenes and that the beginning felt like waking through mud, it also sounds like a novel I might have trouble with. That said: I do love the premise for this one: it sounds both chilling and very heartbreaking at the same time. So: I will add it to my to read list. As always though: your review was comprehensive, fun and great to read:awesome post! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahah! At this rate, your read list will be the fattest thing on earth in 2018!! 😂 Yep, it has everything to be super thrilling and chilling, but it might also have some problems in the flow, hence taking away a bit of the thrill. At least the last 40% was super exhilarating! Thanks for the kind words and for reading, Michel! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, it is really character-centered and a bit oddly if you ask me. At times it had me wondering how some of the background information was even connected to the case or how the character is feeling. The series does have good potential nonetheless and this might even please some readers more than it did me! Thanks for your kind words sir, I appreciate it! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually quite like to have some background story about the main characters and I like them flawed 🙂 but I understand it was too prominent in this story and you were looking forward more to solving the case. Still, this one does really sound interesting. Great review!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, same here. I just felt like this one was a bit unbalanced in its dosage of background story and child abduction case. It made me wonder how they were even connected or pertinent to the main storyline. Maybe it was just me who felt like the protagonist’s story overshadowed the case, but I definitely vouch for this book’s quality though. It is totally worth trying out! Thanks for reading, Inge! Always fun to hear your thoughts on these! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It must have had some relevance, I hope it wasn’t just all filler. But then you wouldn’t vouch for this novel I’m sure! Ah I always look forward to your reviews of books in this genre… I don’t have a whole lot to say about the fantasy titles 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Ah no, by the end of the book you’ll understand why so much trauma was shared regarding the protagonist 😉😂 Hahah of course, no worries! I don’t expect everyone to read everything I review, even less the comic book reviews 😂 but stillz, I appreciate the drop-by! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! I really enjoyed this book and the back story of Elsa. I thought that Ellis did a great job with a couple of the aspects (cancer and cutting) as she didn’t glorify them and got the sentiments (from my own experiences) right.

    We can’t love them all but it’s a great and well-rounded review as ever. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks man! Her exploration of both cancer and self-harm was really well-written indeed. The self-harm was also quite shocking when you think about how professional and perfect she seems from the outside to some. She’s definitely good at keeping secrets! I guess its how her character’s background became the priority in this book and that all the plot twists were foreseeable for me that made this less impressive than it could’ve been. Thanks for reading though, I appreciate the feedback and look forward to reading your own thoughts on the book. Sounds like it was a personal read as much as an entertaining one for you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure I’d class it as a personal read. Those two aspects, yeah but it was just a book that I enjoyed. Perhaps if Ellis had written about the cancer and self harm in a different way then I may well have not enjoyed the book. They are a couple of tricky subjects.

        It wasn’t feedback, just my view, I’m still new to the thriller genre and only read a couple of books from it. Hell, I struggle to review them as I’m still a thriller noob!😂 I guess in fantasy and post-apocalyptic books I know what I like and don’t like whereas I’m still trying to figure that out in the crime genre and find out if I prefer character driven or plot driven books and for A Map of the Dark it did have a large focus on Elsa, it was her introduction and if there is a second book then it could well be more story driven now Elsa’s past has been revealed.

        No thanks are needed for reading.😀 You and Trang are two of my favourite bloggers and I try to always read your posts. I might not comment if I have nothing much to say or add but I always read and look forward to your reviews and posts.👌

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, by feedback, I just meant the “Great review” part hahah Although I believe some people just have a habit of saying that, I do like to hear what people thought of the review 😂

        Ah, of course, no worries man! You’ll quickly get a good idea of what you like and not like in thrillers after a good dozen. I feel like it’s a subgenre that is easy to get into 😂

        Too kind, my friend! I have no hard feelings if you don’t read or don’t comment hahah taking the time to even pass by will always be greatly appreciated! 😁 Your content is also just as exciting to look forward to, sir. Stay awesome! 😎

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ha!😂😂😂 That’s me, spot on! Great review is just one of those sayings that I along with many others type without really thinking about it and it is definitely one of my go to phrases. I think it’s just a way to start a comment when you’ve enjoyed a review and want to express that you found it quality. Habit too.😂

        I shall try and change it up more for your blog though!😂😉

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Fantastic review Lashaan! I am one who struggles with thrillers that spend too much tome focusing on the protagonist back story though (sounds like the case here). I get too impatient haha and need the thrills and events to unfold more steadily. It also sounds like the alternating perspective could have been executed more fluidly. But at least it still resulted in a good read. I will not roght it off 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Danielle! Finally someone who can see where I’m coming from 😂 I felt like this one really did give us a lot more background story and sadly had to suffer a bit in regards to the main case. It doesn’t help when you can also see the twists coming 😂 But, yes, indeed. It was still a great “debut” novel and I’m sure the next books will be better. 😁


    1. Yaaas! When those timelines are done properly, they are sooo satisfying! I’m glad that you’ll still give this one a go though. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on it, especially with that expertise of yours with thrillers! 😁 Thanks for reading, Stephanie!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review for this book Lashaan. I’m glad you enjoyed it despite the issues it had, I think it’s really great how even though you saw the twist coming you were still hooked when it actually happened. 🙂 While I always prefer it when the twist ends up surprising me there have been one or two books I’ve read where I’ve seen the twist coming and still loved the story. Also it’s a shame about how the time jumps in this book felt odd to you. I think it’s got to be hard to write flashback chapters and keep the pace of the story constant, guess it didn’t work as well here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Beth! I agree. I do prefer not seeing it coming, especially if the author does an amazing job at building up the twist. But a story where you see where it’s headed and still enjoy how the author delivers it? Definitely still good in my books; maybe not as much. 😉 Yes, that’s exactly it! Maintaining a steady rhythm for both flashback chapters and the main case! Felt a bit off and destabilizing for me. The main case really wasn’t as thrilling as I’d hoped because of this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book review!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right. Oh I’m the same, surprise twists are always better because it feels like it has more of an impact when you don’t see it coming. At least the author managed to deliver this twist well despite you seeing it coming, I feel that’s kind of a feat in and of itself you know?
        That’s all right. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  6. What a fantastic and authentic review Lashaan!😉 I have never checked out Karen Ellis’s work bit definitely will be after reading this review.💙💛💚💖📚📚📚 You really know how to catch the essence of the story Lashaan and I am glad that even though you saw the twist it was done masterfully!🤗 Yay! I hope you have a great week and New Year!😊😗🤗😘

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so, so much, Dani! I appreciate the love!!! ❤ This is actually her first book under that name so it might be totally worth checking out some day. Although I might have to warn you that there are some really nasty triggers in this and the author does an impeccable job in making them feel genuine. Might be a much-needed caution. Last thing I want is for you to feel uneasy after picking up a book that I might have read and reviewed! 😮 Have a wonderful week-end, Dani!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds very interesting Lashaan. I think it can be hard to have flashbacks integrated smoothly, often I’m confused about what is going on until something indicated they are in a different time. Or it yanks me out of the main story and it’s hard to get back in again. Very honest well written review as always:)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Some readers did find those flashbacks confusing and didn’t even know they were flashbacks till later hahah I did see them as flashbacks but I just didn’t find it fluid in the narrative. And yes, it does yank you out in this case, but then again, as you reach the ending you’ll understand why it was done that way and how everything helps in further understanding the protagonist. Thank you so much, Asia!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. I do like a plot thread that investigates the mc’s background, but because this character’s background was..well.. quite tragic, it just overshadowed everything else! 😛 It was still a great book though and enjoyed it. I’d definitely love to see how its sequel would do. Thank you!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. I’m happy that it wasn’t a disappointment in the end though. Otherwise it would certainly be a perfect example of a book that did too much in backstory and lost its grip on the plot. Hope you enjoy it as much/more than I did, Kim! Thank you!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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