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The Only Child

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  303 ratings  ·  109 reviews
An eerie and absorbing novel following a criminal psychologist who has discovered shocking and possibly dangerous connections between a serial killer and her stepdaughter.

Criminal psychologist Seonkyeong receives an unexpected call one day. Yi Byeongdo, a serial killer whose gruesome murders shook the world, wants to be interviewed. Yi Byeongdo, who has refused to speak to
ebook, 304 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.32  · 
Rating details
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Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I became a fan of Asian crime fiction since discovering the likes of Kanae Minato and Natsuo Kirino so I was very excited to be granted an ARC of The Only Child.

"I shouldn't have gone in, even if the locks were open. But curiosity got the better of me and I went inside. And I realized.

That I had opened the door to hell."

A criminal psychologist, Seonkyeong, has been asked to interview the notorious serial killer, Yi Byeongdo, per his request. He has never willingly spoken to anyone before
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Only Child is a translation of a Korean thriller featuring a criminal psychologist Seongkyeong who suddenly gets a phone call that a serial killer who has kept quiet for years suddenly wants to talk, but only to her.

The same day this inexperienced criminal psychologist interviews Yi Byeongdo, she is surprised to find that her husband has brought his daughter from a previous marriage to live with them after her grandparents die after a fire that Hayeong was the lone survivor of.

As the story
Eleven year old Hayeong is found uninjured after a fire kills her grandparents with whom she had been living since the death of her mother. Hayeong is collected by her indifferent father Jaeseong, a busy surgeon. Jaeseong has recently married Seonkyeong, a criminal psychologist who seems woefully unqualified for her job.

This book had the interesting idea of comparing the stories of an adult serial killer with that of a child who shared a similarly abusive background. Unfortunately, I found the
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
Dnf at page 45 in the ARC.

Maybe this is just because Im reading an advanced version but the writing in this book is awful. Its repetitive and unfeeling and just not a fun time to read. Words are overused and descriptions go on for ages, repeating the same details over and over.

There are so many things that seem absurd even within the first 4 chapters?? Like... a man being told at the scene of a crime that his parents-in-law are dead without any investigation or bothering to confirm their
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
Yi Byeongdo is a serial killer sitting on death row. He hasnt said much to anyone about the murders hes committed and the police are anxious to learn just how many murders there were. Unexpectedly, Yi Byeongdo has asked to be interviewed by a criminal psychologist by the name of Seonkyeong. Seonkyeong has no idea why Yi Byeongdo has singled her out as she does not know him.

Seonkyeong has just been surprised by her husband with the arrival of his eleven-year-old daughter from a previous marriage,
Erin (from Long Island, NY)
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm starting to see a trend in Asian thrillers... I'm not entirely sure if it's the way it's written, or more to do with the translation- but just like in Confessions (by Kanae Minato) this book reminded me of some straight up (fascinating) storytelling. They're both blunt, not highly emotional, & at times pretty miserable.. But i found myself enthralled, i loved it! It feels fresh after so many thrillers that spend so much time leading up to that twist or reveal, at times
Alma Katsu
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For fans of TVs Mindhunter, Mi-Ae Seos novel THE ONLY CHILD feels like true crime but is a tour de force of twisty fiction with a shocking ending you wont be able to stop thinking about.

A criminal psychologist is sent to plumb the mind of an enigmatic serial killer, while at the same time unearthing the terrifying past of the stepdaughter who has just come to live with her. Family secrets abound in this fine novel of psychological suspense.
Liz | The Crime Girl
2.5 stars!
GUYS, Im honestly so sad that I didnt enjoy this book. Id seen a ton of mixed reviews before going into it (which usually makes me more excited going into a book) but it really just didnt work for me! THE ONLY CHILD follows a criminal psychologist who discovers a shocking and possibly dangerous connection between a serial killer and her husbands daughter.

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞𝐝:
I did really enjoy the fact the book dealt with a serial killer. That was something that was really interesting reading
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Oh boy! This was not a good book...

Firstly, the writing wasn't very good. I don't know if that's because it wasn't written well or because this is a Korean translation and the translation was poor

Secondly, its essentially just a Korean version of silence of the lambs. It even referred to silence of the lambs on mutiple occasions. I didn't really see the point in it

I saw the ending coming too. I was expecting some big twist but it was very obvious where the book was going.

There was also some
Paul Fulcher
"내가 비밀 한 가지 말해줄까요?"
"Do you want me to tell you a secret?"

The Only Child has been translated by Jung Yewon from 서 미애 (Mi-ae So)'s Korean language original 잘 자요 엄마.

Seonkyeong (선경) is a criminal psychiatrist, who went on a course at the FBI and was thereafter nicknamed Clarice Starling by her students. And in a case of life imitating art, as the novel opens, an infamous serial killer, Yi Byeongdo (이병도), one she has never met, says he will speak about his crimes, but only to her. And it transpires
This creeped me out so much! Finally a five-star read this year.
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Bang! Bang! Maxwells silver hammer came down upon her head..."

Excuse me as this Beatles song now hums unstoppably in my head and contributes to me having nightmares for days to come.

What makes a serial killer?

The Only Child is a brutally detailed look into the childhood life of a serial killer, emphasizing the maternal and environmental aspect so meticulously you're going to have to sleep with the lights on.

The characters - including strong female lead Seonkyong, her stepdaughter and the
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seonkyeong, a criminal psychologist, has received an unexpected phone call. It seems serial killer, Yi Byeongdo, known for a series of gruesome murders that shocked the world, would like to be interviewed. He feels that the time has finally come for him to share his story and the only person he is willing to tell is Seonkyeong. Out of curiosity she agrees to meet.

On that same day Hayeong, her husbands eleven-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, shows up at their door. Her grandparents
Elvina Zafril
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating 3.5 stars

The Only Child surprised me with its captivating story. The first Korean modern thriller I read. It was good. If you are a fan of Mindhunter you probably will like this.

Seonkyeong is being asked to interview a serial killer who has not speak since being caught. His murders have shocked the entire nation. This happened at the same time when her husband brought home Hayeong, his daughter from his previous marriage. Seonkyeong needed to adapt with the changes of her life. She
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
If you think kids are little monsters in cherubim form, this is the book that might speak to you. The premise is simple. A criminal psychologist, Seonkyeong, is minding her own business when suddenly two events collide with her life: a convicted serial killer demands to speak with her, and her husbands daughter from a previous marriage comes to live under her roof. Both individuals seem sinister but what harm can they do to Seonkyeong, really? One is behind bars, and the other is a traumatised ...more
Em Stevens
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read an ARC, so it is hard to tell how much of the choppy writing is translation style and how much is that it's still in the editing process.

It was hard for me to connect with the main character. If I'd understood more of her career motivations, or more of her relationship to her husband, maybe then I could justify the naivete and slow realizations of what was coming into play.

This was sent with a note that said it was like "Silence of the Lambs" but the serial killer wasn't creepy or
Sep 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
I received am ARC of this book from NetGalley, all thoughts and opinions are my open. I ended up disliking by this book from the first chapter. The writing was poorly done, being too wordy and making the story drag. A lot of the storyline was borrowed from Silence of the Lambs, and I found the plot to be enormously predictable. On top of that, I could my get myself to root for any of the characters, and the villain the main character visits was terribly annoying and his story went absolutely ...more
Jamie Canaves
At the center of a venn diagram with Natsuo Kirino, Kanae Minato, Silence of the Lambs, and The Bad Child is Mi-ae Seos upcoming novel The Only Child! I read it in two sittings and it made me angry that more crime novels arent translated. It asks the question of nurture vs nature when a dark criminal mind meets a kind, optimistic, criminal psychologist. (TW child abuse/ animal cruelty/ past suicide)

--from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter:
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of THE ONLY CHILD by Mi-ae Seo in exchange for my honest review.***

A criminal psychiatrist becomes alarmed with the parallels between the serial killer shes interviewing and her own stepdaughter, who recently came to live with the family.

Reminiscent of BABY TEETH and THE BAD SEED, THE ONLY CHILD is a great premise for a psychological thriller. I enjoyed the details of the story more than the actual book. Reading Mi-ae Sees translated
Caecilia Saori
Since Goodreads only allows for either 3 OR 4 stars, going rather for a 3 (based on comparison with Lock Every Door which I have enjoyed a tad more)
Consider this one a 3 1/2 stars from me.

Plot summary & my thoughts:

Criminal psychologist Seonkyeong is being asked to interview a serial killer, whose murders have shocked the nation, but who has not spoken since being caught. At almost the same time, her husband brings home Hayeong, his daughter from the previous marriage - after a fire 🔥 has
Jan 07, 2020 marked it as dnf
I'm setting this one aside. I was really looking forward to it, but the story has not caught my attention, and the translation feels very stilted.
Pearline Ho
Twist at the end.

Was puzzled as to how the stories of Hayeong, the child and the murderer Byeongdo will intersect. Well they don't really, there isn't much lore to it. They just met in a different way than I expected.

Fast read, but the writing was a little choppy and bland.

Am I the only one who feels much more for the murder of well an animal versus that of a human?
Feb 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-books
3.5 stars

I was very excited to read this book! Its another one that Id heard lots about, so I was eager to get a copy from the library as soon as I could.

I found this a bit slow to start, but then I really got into it. Overall I didnt love this one, but I liked it. I thought the pacing was kind of off-kilter throughout, and for a short book, there were several moments where nothing seemed to be happening.

But the premise certainly drew me in, and I liked the way things came together in the end.
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Crime and Thriller lovers
I received a free advanced readers eproof copy of The Only Child from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, publisher, and Netgalley!

As Seonkyeongs first semester teaching criminal psychology at a university comes to an end, she receives an unexpected phone call from the director of the Association of Criminal Psychology. Yi Byeongdo, a notorious serial killer imprisoned for the murder of 13 plus women, personally requests to an interview with Seonkyeong. This
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
When reading a translated book you like you probably don't give much thought to the original version, which is why I don't like blaming the translator when I don't enjoy a novel. In this case, I have to question the English translation. The text is repetitive to the extreme and the dialogues sound strange (for instance, everybody asks if they can get their visitors something "cold" to drink -every single time they greet someone). I also wasn't sure if some of the events seem nonsensical to ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I'd give it 2.5, but rounding up.

Seonkyeong is suddenly chosen by a serial thriller to meet with a serial killer in prison. Concomitantly, her husband takes his eleven-year-old daughter to live with them and the girl has just lived through a trauma, but there's much more to it.

I'm familiar with the Japanese and the Korean ways to treat stories. Of course, they're not all like this but I mean that I expected The Only Child to be more psychological, more about character analysis than about a
Jenn Adams
Received an eARC from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review

I decided to read this in the time period leading up to Halloween hoping that I would get a mind-bending psychological thriller and now that I've finished... meh.

The main character is supposedly an expert in criminal psychology, but you wouldn't really know it from her actions and mindset in the story. The story was generally a bit disjointed and the two parts did not end up being entwined the way I had anticipated. Now, that's not
Stephanie Stennett
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Morgan Schulman
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reader-s-copy
I received an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review

I was not expecting that at all- got me sleeping with one eye open and watching my kids a little differently.

Definitely different and super creepy, but worth it. Dont want to say more and spoil, if you enjoy creepy twisted mess you'll Love this
Morgan Schulman
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review

I was not expecting that at all- got me sleeping with one eye open and watching my kids a little differently.

Definitely different and super creepy, but worth it. Dont want to say more and spoil, if you enjoy creepy twisted mess you'll Love this
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