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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Review: The Secret Talker by Geling Yan

The Secret Talker
by Geling Yan

Thanks to HarperVia and NetGalley for this copy.

Publisher: HarperVia
Publish Date: May 4, 2021
Hardcover
160 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Contemporary

Beautiful, diligent, and passive, Hongmei is the perfect wife to Glen, an intelligent and caring college professor. But her quiet life in Northern California fractures when a mysterious person begins e-mailing her, pulling her into an enthralling and frightening game of cat-and-mouse. Who is stalking her? And how does this mysterious stranger know her deepest, darkest secrets?

As Hongmei is forced to confront her own dark past in China, the fa├žade of her idyllic life is laid bare. Increasingly desperate and self-destructive, her one hope is to turn the tables on her tormentor. Investigating the stalker’s own secret history may irrevocably tear her marriage and her world apart—a risk she must take to regain control of her life.

My Review:


I absolutely love the premise of this story.  Hongmei is bored and unhappy in her marriage to Glen, her American husband who provides for her but somehow she feels never SEES her.  Then a mysterious e-mail comes her way and now she gets involved and eventually obsessed about the person obsessing about her.  Got that?

I really wanted to like this story... I really did.  I even put it down at 66% through and while I usually never pick up books I put down, I realized this was a novella and I may as well finish ... plus my interest was piqued to see where Hongmei's journey would take her.  Here are some issues I had: this is marketed as a thriller, but the thriller aspect is hard to really find here.  Sure we have an anonymous person stalking Hongmei but as she continues to engage this person and basically turn the tables, the lack of fear and only sleightened increase of paranoia does not lend to that thriller atmosphere.  However, I do find that the thriller aspect in most translated books tend to be more subtle and not in your face, which can lend a very tense atmosphere... but alas, that's not found here either.  I also felt like this story was a bit incomplete... the entirety of setting up to the final *explanation* felt lacking.

What I did like is that in learning more and more of Hongmei as she opens up to her "admirer", we get a pretty compelling character.  While I didn't agree with some of her actions, I could understand needing that excitement in her life.  The cultural aspect of American and Chinese clashing a bit playing into her dissatisfaction is relatable and in learning of her past experiences lends to why she is acting the way she is now.  

Overall I feel like this could've been fleshed out a bit more.  Don't go into this expecting the standard thrilling thrills you'd expect from a thriller...  you won't find it.  But you will find an intricate story of Hongmei, who is worth getting to know.

★★

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