Library Journal Review
Twenty-six-year-old Yu-jin has struggled with seizures for most of his life, and now he lives at home with his mother, studying for law school under her watchful, oppressive gaze. Yu-jin's medication makes him drowsy, dopey, and not present, so once in a while he'll skip the drugs, and the world becomes a new place, full of color and possibilities. One morning, Yu-jin is awakened by the overpowering smell of blood and a phone call from his adopted brother Hae-jin, wondering if their mother was okay. Yu-jin stumbles downstairs and finds his mother's body, covered in blood and stab wounds. One of the side effects of his seizures is short-term memory loss. All he can remember from the night before is his mother screaming his name. Was she calling for help? Or was she screaming for her life? As Yu-jin investigates what happened, a young woman is found murdered not far from his house, and Yu-jin uncovers an unnerving and quietly sinister secret concerning his whole existence. Jeong has been called "Korea's Stephen King," and she lives up to the billing with this taut psychological thriller. Yu-jin is an intriguing protagonist, and the many twists and turns Jeong takes with this story arc set the reader up for quite a thrill ride. Verdict Incorporating chilling prose, unpredictable characters, and blood by the gallons, Jeong has crafted an ominous and haunting experience. Hand to readers of Stephen King and Shirley Jackson. [See Prepub Alert, 1/22/18.]-Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn P.L. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
The opening sentence The smell of blood woke me gives way to a young man discovering his mother's freshly murdered corpse. He's gone off his epilepsy medications again, and has trouble remembering, but he's determined to figure out what happened. Initially, the whodunit and howdunit seem obvious. What's left to solve is the whydunit. Slyly, the manipulations multiply as details of that horrific night are meted out, interspersed with what happened before the tragic loss 16 years earlier of the father and older brother, a mother's failed suicide attempt, a psychiatrist aunt with a shocking diagnosis of a six-year-old, the adoption of a lookalike brother and what happens after the inevitable growing body count. The novel is already an international best-seller, and award-winning translator Chi-Young Kim ensures that Jeong is introduced to Anglophone readers with chilling precision, even as the protagonist proves to be a supremely unreliable narrator: After all, being true to life isn't the only way to tell a story. Lauded as South Korea's leading psychological crime-fiction writer, Jeong performs intricate plotting here in a tale that should both enthrall and repulse stateside thriller seekers, encouraging future Western welcomes for her other murderous best-selling titles.--Terry Hong Copyright 2018 Booklist
Kirkus Review
A young man desperately tries to fill in gaps in his memory when he realizes he may have brutally murdered his own mother.Twenty-five-year-old Yu-jin lives in a sparkling modern apartment with his mother, has an adopted brother with whom he's close, and he's waiting to hear if he's been accepted into law school. One morning, he wakes covered in blood, "clots of the stuff" hanging off his clothes. He follows the trail of gore to find his mother lying at the bottom of the stairs with her throat cut. He explores the house, hoping for more clues as to what happened, and is surprised to find his late father's straight razor covered in blood in his room. Could he have killed his own mother? It sure seems that way, even if he can't remember doing it, and the fact that he hasn't been taking his anti-seizure medication doesn't help. Yu-jin narrates, telling a compelling, disturbing tale as he tries to piece together the events that might have led to his mother's death. Yu-jin's mom may not have had his best interests at heart. She made his stop swimming competitivelythe only thing he really lovedbecause she claimed to fear he'd have a seizure in the water, and she nags him incessantly, always insisting she know his whereabouts. After his brother and father died 16 years ago, she adopted Hae-jin and has favored him over Yu-jin since. Yu-jin even confesses to following young women around at night, noting that frightening them is an addiction that he must feed. When a woman's body washes up nearby, one can't help but suspect Yu-jin. He doesn't help his case by admitting that he lies often. Pressure steadily mounts as Yu-jin's world, and mind, unravels. Bestselling Korean author Jeong slowly winds readers up with taut, high-tension wire, slowly letting it play out as the police inevitably come calling and Yu-jin begins to uncover shocking secrets about himself, his mother, and his past.A creepy, insidious, blood-drenched tale in which nothing is quite what it seems. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.