Denfeld writes with sere, vulnerable honesty, boldly going into dark places shining a light of possibility. Naomi is known as The Child Finder, since the age of twenty she has spent her life and her passion hunting for missing children, sometimes with amazing success, occasionally with tragic results. It is the only way she knows to keep her own dark history at bay. Naomi’s life began at 9, when a group of migrant workers rescued the young girl as she ran terrified through a field into their camp, attracted by the light of their fire. She has no earlier memories, only the nightmares that haunt her sleep. On a trip to the Skookum National Forest to cut the perfect Christmas tree, Madison Culver age 5 disappeared without a trace. Snow made the search difficult, perhaps impossible, a cadaver dog tried to find remains, now three years later, the Culvers are asking Naomi to find their child. Common sense says the child perished in the forbidding wilderness but the Culver’s cling to the hope that someone took her, that Madison is still alive. Naomi knows she may shatter their hopes, the weather was harsh, there was no one around, and they were miles into the wilderness along a road with no traffic. Still, she will give it her all, pouring over every bit of evidence, learning every trail and patch of owned ground, searching with dedication. She takes a room in a seedy motel near the forest, staying near the places she must search. Alone in her room, the nightmares intensify, frightening her sleeping hours. This case may force Naomi to confront the monsters of her past. Written with compassion and understanding, the story introduces the reader to great characters.— Deon Stonehouse
September 2017 Indie Next List
“In Rene Denfeld's new novel, a woman who searches for abducted or lost children must confront her own memoires of being abducted as a young girl. While searching for a girl recently kidnapped in her hometown, she is haunted by her past and the lies that she used to weave her present, lies that often took the form of stories. Meanwhile, the abducted girl must survive years of terror and heartbreak, all while constructing a magical mythology to shield herself from the atrocities of her captor. These characters, especially the women, are strong and imaginative. Readers who enjoyed Room will devour this literary thriller, which promises to open up Denfeld's readership to a much wider level.”
— William Carl (E), Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA
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 page-turner about redemption, the line between reality and memories and dreams, and the human capacity to survive.
About the Author
Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, licensed investigator, and therapeutic foster mother. She is the author of the novels The Child Finder and The Enchanted. She has also written for the New York Times Magazine, The Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
“It’s ‘Deliverance’ encased in ice… Denfeld’s novel is indeed loaded with suspense, its resonance comes from its surprising tilt towards storytelling restraint, a rarity in this typical crackling genre. Elegiac, informative and disquieting… The novel gallops to a suitably heart-racing finish.”
— New York Times Book Review
“In the necessary and uncomfortable places where Rene Denfeld locates her haunting fiction, the lines between victim and perpetrator can be painfully blurry…. Giving voice to those who are metaphorically or even literally voiceless, Rene Denfeld reminds us that consequences continue, aftermath continues — yet we must somehow find ways of holding on to threads of hard-won hope.”
— Elizabeth Rosner, San Francisco Chronicle
“At times haunting, at times devastating.... Captivating read.”
“A chillingly good read that will stay with you long after you close the book.”
“Gut-wrenching, its compassion goes a long way toward healing readers’ aching hearts.”
— Shelf Awareness
“It’s stunning. From the first page... we are in a strange, forbidding territory.... I couldn’t put this book down.”
— The Globe and Mail
“A hauntingly beautiful, chilling novel by a real-life badass heroine… Denfeld brings [her protagonist] to life with precise, lyrical prose. While the whole book reads like a fairytale for adults, Naomi herself is fully realized and deeply human.”
“A glittering gem of a story—part mystery, part fairy tale, and all white-knuckled, edge-of-your-seat thriller… readers will be drawn in by Denfeld’s lyrical prose and undone by the brutal reality that Naomi uncovers, just beneath the snowy forest floor.”
— Library Journal, starred review
“Aptly unclassifiable, Denfeld’s compulsively readable second novel calls on elements of horror, mystery, fairy tales, and even romance to explore legacies of violence and the resilience of the most vulnerable among us.”
“Intense.... Innovative... Heartbreaking, surprising.... The conclusion will leave readers breathless.”
— Publishers Weekly
“A darkly luminous story of resilience and the deeply human instinct for survival, for love. Blending the magical thinking of childhood, of fairy tales, dreams, memories and nightmares, The Child Finder is a terrifying and ultimately uplifting novel that demands to be consumed and then once inside you–lingers.”
— A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven
“Rene Denfeld has a gift for shining bright light in dark places. The Child Finder is a gorgeous, haunting gem of a novel. Raw and real yet wrapped in a fairy tale, as lovely and as chilling as the snow.”
— Erin Morgenstern, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus
“Rene Denfeld’s novel The Child Finder renders atrocity with depth and heart—a compassion made even more credible by her career as an investigator in death-penalty cases... The Child Finder‘s moral lesson is not new—that hope and humanity can be found in even the darkest places. But the extent to which Denfeld practices that belief is deeply touching, if not even remarkable.”
— Willamette Week