As children, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were separated from their friend, Emily. Hours later, she is found murdered. Unable to provide any answers to the police and unable to find the murderer, Emily’s mother curses the girls, vowing that they will pay for her daughter’s murder.
I am always looking to add diversity to my reading rotation, so when I saw Penance, by Kanae Minato, and realized I had never heard of this author before, I decided to add this novel (translated from its original Japanese) into my rotation. I have never read any books by a Japanese author before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What an experience.
When I come across a new author, the first thing I do is google them. Apparently, Kanae Minato is known as the “Queen of Iyamisu” which is literally an “eww” mystery. This is a subgenre of mystery fiction, which deals with grisly episodes and the dark side of human nature.
After reading this novel, I totally get this.
Penance was dark, incredibly creepy, grotesque and also quite lyrical in its narration. If there were ever a novel to look at the dark side of human nature, this would be it!! It’s portrayal of sorrow, revenge and redemption had me completely sucked in. Secrets are told, tragedies are revealed and the reader is shown the effect that a single incident has on a group of women.
The plot was extremely complex and often slightly confusing, but I feel like that was an issue more within the translation to English than the actual fault of the author. Minato clearly knows how to write a plot that weaves through your bones and squeezes tight. This one sat with me long after I had finished the final pages.
I will absolutely be hunting down other novels by this author (apparently, Confessions is amazing) so I can experience more of her work. Loved it. 4/5 stars.