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  • Writer's pictureAnanya Ak

Confessions is the Perfect Edge-of-Seat Thriller For a Quick Adrenaline Rush

The ebook of Confessions is open on a mobile phone, against a black background. To the right is a cute pink bunny pouch (with the text "This cute little bunny hides a sinister secret"). To the left is a blue-and-white milk carton (with the text "Milk Time!")

Confessions is a uniquely written book, much like most of the books I’ve been reading these days.

So my review will be a not-exactly-review – something…different.


The Not-Review

It has been months, Yuko-sensei, since you set foot in this classroom. That does make sense, of course, since you resigned at the end of the last school year.

That fateful last class started off innocently enough, with you announcing the end of the silly ‘Milk Time’ that the Health Ministry imposed upon us. It could have very well been the end of any year. But we all knew it was different, even then, no matter how calm you were.

After all, Manami was a friend to a lot of us, wasn’t she? Such a sweet child you had raised!

We all knew why you were resigning. But we didn’t think anything of it then. It was natural that you would leave the school your daughter died in. Staying on was bound to be painful.

But I don’t think any of us (other than the two boys who killed her, of course) had imagined what really happened.

You took us all through the story, and it was so scary! So terrifying to find out that one of us had done something so heinous.

But then you made that announcement, spoke about your revenge, and just…left! You should have at least stayed for the consequences of your actions, I think. Or left us some way to tell you what happened.

The consequences were darker than you probably expected. Or maybe you did expect things to take a scary turn when you all but told us who killed your daughter?

I shocked myself by the cruelty I showed, by the hatred in my heart for my own classmates. And I’m sure that’s how everyone else felt, too.

I’m talking in circles now, aren’t I?

Maybe this is what you meant to do – create such a ruckus that no one has any idea what happened.

And perhaps you have a way of knowing what happened – how your revenge finally took shape. Manami was, after all, your daughter. And we all know how much you loved her.

I want to blame you for turning our normal, average middle-school class into this mess, but it wasn’t your fault, was it? Not really. The killers have gotten their due, though, and we innocent students of the class have been left to deal with that trauma.

I hope you read this, sensei, and feel some sympathy in your heart for the children you left behind.

Sincerely, A student


Did you understand a word of what I’ve written? I was terrified about revealing anything, so what I’ve written might not actually be comprehensible. But if it is, I hope you’re intrigued. Because this book IS intriguing. It starts off dark and gets darker by the minute, ending with you scratching your head, wondering what to think.

My friend Shweta (@whatsshwereading) called it the “personification of an edge-of-seat thriller” and I couldn’t agree more. You’ll start it, promising yourself, “just one chapter”, and before you know it, it’s 3 am and you’re turning the last page. It’s deliciously dark and it’s got the unique flavour of a shocking Japanese thriller.

You won’t be able to put it down, trust me.

A word of caution, though: it’s extremely disturbing. Not overly violent or anything; it just messes with your mind because all the cruelty described is so…casual! So check the trigger warnings (The Storygraph usually has solid ones) before you dive in!

I want to thank Shweta for the rec…and both her and Arya (@quirky.booknerd) for putting up with random screenshots and scream-y DMs as I devoured the book in a single sitting. You two are awesome!

About the author

A headshot of the author, Kanae Minato, against a blurred background of trees. She's weating a white turtleneck shirt and a blue jacket on top of that.
Kanae Minato

A former home economics teacher and homemaker, Kanae Minato wrote Confessions (which was, by the way, her debut) between household chores. It is a wonder that any decent human being can imagine such gruesome darkness, but if there’s one person you’d never expect it from, it’s a home economics teacher.

But here we are!

She only started writing in her thirties (there’s still hope for me, then!) and her debut was so explosive that it sold 3 million copies in Japan and won several awards.

In her youth, she was an avid fan of the mystery novels written by stalwarts like Agatha Christie, Keigo Higashino, Edogawa Ranpo, Maurice Leblanc, Miyuki Miyabe and Yukito Ayatsuji. And obviously the influence has rubbed off. As a reader, I’d definitely put her work(s) on par with Higashino’s books!

She has been described in Japan as the queen of iyamisu (a subgenre of mystery which deals with the dark side of human nature).

About the translator

A headshot of Stephen Snyder, who's wearing a white collared t-shirt, taken against the green background of what looks like a garden
Stephen Snyder

Stephen Snyder is a Japanese translator and professor or Japanese Studies at Middlebury College. He lived in Japan for several years as a child but only learnt Japanese much later, while finishing a Masters in English Literature at Columbia University. Since then, he has lived in Japan for a total of about six years.

He has translated works by Yoko Ogawa, Kenzaburo Oe, Ryu Murakami, and Miri Yu, among others. His translation of Natsuo Kirino’s “Out” was a finalist for the Edgar Award for best mystery novel in 2004, and that of Yoko Ogawa’s “Hotel Iris” was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2011.

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