Book - 2017 | First English language edition.
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A chilling Japanese psychological thriller about four women, forever connected by one horrible day in their childhood--fifteen years later, someone wants to make sure they never forget.
Finalist for the 2018 EDGAR AWARD
for Best Paperback Original
"As ethereal and literary as it is a sharp, tight crime novel." -- A Literary Hub Best Crime Book of the Year
When they were girls, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were tricked into leaving their friend Emily with a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurred: Emily was found murdered hours later. The four friends were never able to describe the stranger to the police; the killer's trail went cold. Asako, the bereaved mother, curses the surviving girls, vowing that they will be the ones to pay for her daughter's murder...
Like Confessions , Kanae Minato's award-winning, internationally bestselling debut, PENANCE is a dark tale of revenge and psychological drama that will leave readers breathless.
Publisher: New York : Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2017.
Edition: First English language edition.
ISBN: 9780316349154
Branch Call Number: FIC Minat
Characteristics: 229 pages ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Gabriel, Philip 1953-- Translator
Language Note: Translated from the Japanese.


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Lovestoread5 Jun 18, 2018

Great plot line, characters, and setting. Very interesting writing - I haven't read anything like it before. It's a sad thriller that touches on the lives of the girls, and shows how they've been haunted and crippled by a past traumatic event. Good read!

Aug 07, 2017


I was disappointed by this one. I'm not usually a reader of thrillers but there's something about thrillers written by Japanese women that I love. I read Out by Natsuo Kirino this year and it turned out to be one of my favourite books of this year. I read it in February and it's still on track to be my favourite book of this year, so I was super disappointed in this one.

It centres around 4 girls who were witnesses to an awful crime that occurred in a small town. The mother of the victim swears that if these young girls don't find the murder, she'll get revenge or they'll have to do penance.

I really enjoyed it at first, it felt really disturbing and suspenseful but then it just fell flat. Each chapter features one of the girls who was a witness to the crime and I just felt like I didn't get to know the characters well enough. Ordinarily, I'd suggest something to do with the translation perhaps, something got muddied or lost, but I've read quite a few Philip Gabriel books before and had no issues with any of his translating work at all. I've always found his work to have its own touch and I like his work.

The plot points felt cheap and sometimes forced. The links the girls' lives had to the crime almost seemed tangental and in the end, I didn't care about the characters. When it came to the big reveal, I didn't really care about that either.

This felt so promising and I'm so sad that it wasn't. This might be someone else's best book of 2017, but it's not mine.

May 30, 2017

This book had me from the first few sentences and I read it in 2-3 days. Four girls find the body of their dead friend one summer and their lives are forever changed. Especially when the dead girl's mother holds them responsible. Each chapter is told from a different girl's perspective 15 years after the murder, just when the statute of limitations on the crime is about up. We get a peek into these women's lives and how the murder affected them so many years later. A very good read.

fineplan May 19, 2017

Amazing and psychologically twisty, with more than healthy dose of disturbing... But in the right ways.

This is my second Minato novel and I am definitely going to keep an eye out for anything else released in English by her. As you can see from the book summary, it's about four girls who are told they have to find the murderer or atone by the victim's mother. What follows is a bit of a mystery, though it's fairly light, and more of an exploration of how the murder and the threat affect them in their lives as they grow into adults. It's fascinating, for sure.

Apr 07, 2017

Dear SMPL, thank you for listening to my 2 requests!

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