A review by booksteastories
The Woman in the Library, by Sulari Gentill

dark mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Hannah, a successful novelist, is writing a book about four strangers who bond and become friends over the shared experience of hearing a scream in the Boston Public Library and later decide to investigate when a girl is found dead in the same place. We read the book as she writes it and the chapters are interspersed with email feedback from Leo, a desperate not-yet-author.

Essentially, there are two main plot lines — the one wherein we follow Freddie and the one where we get glimpses of what is happening within Hannah’s life through the emails that she receives. Although at first I felt as though the fact that Freddie’s story is fiction-fiction detracted from my engagement, I quickly became invested in both plots. I quite enjoyed the fact this was, essentially, a writer writing about a writer writing about a writer writing a story based on her life (try to say that quickly five times), it was a level of inception I’ve never seen before.

The writing style was also quite novel to me — less descriptions and a lot of dialogue and deliberation. However, Leo felt very distinct from the book itself. I was completely consumed by this book — I stayed up late just to find out what was actually happening and whether my suspicions were correct, which was a really fun experience. My one qualm is that at times, the book feels like a vessel for commentary on the world of writing, as well as social commentary. It felt a little overwhelming at certain moments but it was also interesting.

The characters are usually the most important part of the book for me, what gets me invested. I cannot say I was really invested in any of the characters, however, because of the framing of the book and the plot, I was still deeply invested in the plot.

Overall, a deeply addictive story that I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys mystery-thrillers. 

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