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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

June 14, 2022

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

If you are looking for a summer blockbuster read, then this is the book to pick up. Wow is all I got to say.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of thriller The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill
June 2022; Poisoned Pen Press; Poisoned Pen Press
audio, ebook, print (288 pages); thriller

Okay, maybe that isn't all I have to say - I'm sure you came here wanting to know a little more about the book than just that, right?

A story within a story isn't a common trope - at least it isn't a trope I commonly read. But Gentill uses it masterfully in this crime thriller.

Sulari Gentill is an Australian crime writer who in what I'm calling story 1 has created two characters - Hannah, an Australian crime writer, and Leo, an American author wannabe that is beta reading Hannah's book chapter by chapter. In what I'm calling story 2, Hannah creates four main characters: Winnifred (aka Freddie) is an Australian crime writer visiting the U.S. on a writing fellowship, Cain - an American novelist trying to write his second book, Whit - a Harvard law student that would rather be a journalist, and Marigold - a psychology graduate student. In the beginning, I wondered if there was going to be a story within a story within a story with story 3 being the story Freddie is writing. While we do get some glimpses of her book it isn't really detailed enough to be considered its own story.

I had a bit of trouble wrapping my head around the two stories at first, particularly as we get a bit more of the story Freddie is writing in the first few chapters. But once I did get it all straight in my head, I couldn't put the book down. 

I knew there would be a twist - I mean it's a thriller, there has to be a twist. Since we only see Leo's emails to Hannah, I wondered if one of them was not real and it was going to turn out that the character was schizophrenic (like in A Beautiful Mind). Or was the twist going to happen in Hannah's story? We get much more of the story she is writing as most of each chapter is the recent chapter she sent Leo with him writing a shortish email at the end of the chapter with his notes. When the twist does hit, let me tell you, it is quite the bombshell. What the twist is isn't out of left field. No, instead Gentill blindsides you with the timing of it. The timing of it is perfect for the shock and awe factor. Truly is a masterful piece of writing to get the timing so perfect.

I was loving the book before the twist but it pushed the book to 5 stars for me. If you are wanting a book you can't put down, then get this book.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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