Liar, Dreamer, Thief (Hardcover)

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A young woman’s carefully constructed fantasy world implodes in this brilliantly conceived novel that blurs distinctions between right and wrong, comedy and tragedy, imagination and reality: "Surreal . . . filled with technicolor lies and terrible truths" (Alix E. Harrow, New York Times bestselling and Hugo‑award winning author).

Katrina Kim may be broke, the black sheep of her family, and slightly unhinged, but she isn’t a stalker. Her obsession with her co-worker, Kurt, is just one of many coping mechanisms—like her constant shape and number rituals, or the way scenes from her favorite children’s book bleed into her vision whenever she feels anxious or stressed.

But when Katrina finds a cryptic message from Kurt that implies he’s aware of her surveillance, her tenuous hold on a normal life crumbles. Driven by compulsion, she enacts the most powerful ritual she has to reclaim control—a midnight visit to the Cayatoga Bridge—and arrives just in time to witness Kurt’s suicide. Before he jumps, he slams her with a devastating accusation: his death is all her fault.

Horrified, Katrina combs through the clues she’s collected about Kurt over the last three years, but each revelation uncovers a menacing truth: for every moment she was watching him, he was watching her. And the past she thought she’d left behind? It’s been following her more closely than she ever could have imagined.

A gripping page-turner, as well as a sensitive exploration of mental health, Liar, Dreamer, Thief is an intimate portrayal of life in all its complexities—and the dangers inherent in unveiling people’s most closely guarded secrets.

About the Author

Maria Dong's short fiction, articles, and poetry have been published in over a dozen venues, including Apex, Apparition Literary Magazine, Augur, Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Fantasy Magazine, Fusion Fragment, Kaleidotrope, Khoreo, Lightspeed, and Nightmare, among others. Currently a computer programmer, she has had a diverse career as a property manager, English teacher, and occupational therapist. She lives with her partner in southwest Michigan, in a centenarian saltbox house that is almost certainly haunted, and loves watching K-Dramas and drinking Bell's beer. She can be reached via Twitter @mariadongwrites or her website,

Praise For…

"Liar, Dreamer, Thief is a surreal thriller that blurs the line between daydream and nightmare. It leaves you with the creeping certainty that there is a different world lurking just under the surface of our own, filled with technicolor lies and terrible truths."—Alix E. Harrow, New York Times bestselling and Hugo-award winning author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

"Clever, urgent, and deeply compassionate. This novel hooked its claws into me and didn't let go—a brilliant, brutal debut that's also deeply thoughtful in its examination of family, mental health, and diaspora. Absolutely stunning."—Grace D. Li, New York Times bestselling author of Portrait of a Thief

"A gorgeously written, genre-blending take on psychological suspense, Liar, Dreamer, Thief uses the frame of an investigation into a man’s apparent suicide to explore the act of meaning-making itself, as well as the ways neurodivergence and marginality both complicate the process and open it to spectacular new possibilities. This brilliant story is unlike anything I’ve read: provocative and unsettling, but grounded by a warm beating heart. Maria Dong is one of the freshest, most vital new voices in fiction."—Ashley Winstead, Author of In My Dreams I Hold a Knife

"Mesmerizing . . . This nuanced depiction of a woman’s struggles with isolation and mental health rings entirely true. Fans of sharp, inventive fiction will be eager for Dong’s next." —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"A masterfully harrowing adventure for both reader and narrator . . . a completely absorbing novel, both a terrifying whodunit thriller and a heart-wrenching drama about mental health, family, loneliness and moral relativism. Dong's pacing and revelation of secrets is expert; beware staying up late to finish Katrina's story in one go (and, perhaps, beware nightmares of the Mirror Man) . . . This exceptional debut novel showcases relentless momentum, horrors, compassion and an unforgettable protagonist: not to be missed."—Shelf Awareness

"I love Katrina Kim and this trip into her secret world. This book is a unique, stunning ride, with a memorable heroine who stands out like a mushroom-studded enchanted forest in a kitchen. Heartwarming, tragic, funny, suspenseful, and perfectly weird. I couldn’t put this down."—Emily Austin, Author of Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

"A masterful work of psychological suspense with a hypnotically unreliable narrator who obfuscates as much as she reveals. Shocking, enthralling, and unnerving, Dong's debut gleams like broken glass."—Ava Reid, Internationally bestselling author of The Wolf and the Woodsman

"An achingly human mystery thriller with magic looming around every corner. I'm in awe of Maria Dong's beautifully flawed characters and richly drawn world, and you will be too. A marvelous debut."—Cadwell Turnbull, Author of No Gods, No Monsters

"Increasingly bonkers twists propel the story to a cogent, poignant close . . . A rabbit hole worth falling down."—Kirkus

"A scathing critique of the American workplace, a lyrical examination of mental illness, a poignant reflection on the experiences of second-generation Americans, and an engrossing, white-knuckle thriller that's—somehow—infused with magic. Are books even allowed to be so many kinds of awesome? Dong's remarkable debut is destined to become a classic."—Wendy N. Wagner, Author of The Secret Skin and The Deer Kings

"A brave and beautiful book that negotiates constantly between reality and imagination, with an utterly unique Asian-American narrator, unlike any I've ever read before."
 —Samantha Rajaram, Goldie award-winning author of The Company Daughters

"An utterly original, mind-bending mashup that’s equal parts enchanting and suspenseful . . . Dong skillfully and elegantly draws you into her character’s topsy-turvy world and holds you captive at its stunning precipice. A rich, symbolic tapestry of imagination, synchronicity, and the compulsion to see one’s hidden truth, Liar, Dreamer, Thief is fascinating to its core."—Carolyne Topdjian, Author of The Hitman’s Daughter

"Fascinating . . . Murder, spying, lying, and stealing all converge to keep readers on their toes
in this fast-paced tale as they confront a tumultuous and baffling series of events. From start to
finish, this is a captivating story with dire puzzles that beg to be solved one chapter at a time
while readers will continuously wonder whether Dong's narrator can be relied on at all, making
for yet another intriguing mystery."—Booklist

"Took hold of me and lifted me away . . . wonderfully unique and strangely familiar. It’s a fantasy for people who lie mysteries and a mystery for people who love fantasy."—Lightspeed Magazine

"A gripping thriller."—Bookish/NetGalley

Product Details
ISBN: 9781538723562
ISBN-10: 1538723565
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: January 10th, 2023
Pages: 336
Language: English