Cover Image: Becoming Marlow Fin

Becoming Marlow Fin

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Wow.. family drama thriller with more twists and turns than you could anticipate. I enjoyed the writing style and the interview was a fun added bonus. I also enjoy a well put together time jump and this one did it! We were all over in time but it wasn’t chaotic, it was easy to follow and get back into the story of that timeline.

The beginning was a tad slow, but quickly picked up and was a quick read with a nice length to each chapter.

I found myself to be a bit confused at the end. It ended pretty quick and felt a bit rushed with the details. It left me with a feeling of, hmm? A lot of it felt implied rather than laid out and explained to us.

I could have done without the crude language that presents throughout the book and the few explicit sex scenes.

Overall, this had me gripping my seat and swiping pages to find out what was happening next!

Was this review helpful?

Becoming Marlow Fin was a bit confusing for me. I had a hard time following the alternating narratives. I usually enjoy that style of writing -- but It did all come together at the end though and was a good ending. Overall I did enjoy this book. I didn't see the ending coming and I enjoy a good twist. Thank you NetGalley and Ellen Won Steil for the Advance Copy in exchange for honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Ellen Won Steil is a genius! I am a fan and her new book Becoming Marlow Fin is a total mind f@#k. I am in shock and need to reread this brilliant family thriller immediately. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this ARC. Isla, Marlow and Sawyer will in my mind for a very long time.

Was this review helpful?

Fascinating characters, well-done multiple timelines, and enough twists to keep me guessing. I genuinely felt like I was discovering Marlow’s past as she was and experienced the emotions as well. I enjoyed the author’s writing style and would read her future books. Thank you for the opportunity to read in advance!

Was this review helpful?

After reading the reviews, I had high expectations for this book, however, it failed to grip me. The writing style was good and the characters were interesting but the plot was ridiculously far-fetched and unbelievable. I was left rather dissatisfied.

Was this review helpful?

Loved this book! It went back and forth in time, which sometimes can annoy me, but not this book, that just made it more compelling. Some chapters were interviews of super model/actress Marlow. Plenty of twists and turns. One of the best books I’ve read this year. Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book incredible book.

Was this review helpful?

Interesting characters, story and plot. Enjoyed the read and a perfect escape for a cold winter afternoon or a nice afternoon at the beach. Thanks

Was this review helpful?

Becoming Marlow Fin has all the trappings that generally appeal to me, including being slightly reminiscent of Daisy Jones/Evelyn Hugo in its interview style, but with the added element of true crime. It's an easy read in that there's nothing too complex about the language, but I was hoping for something a bit more elevated. Had the writing been slightly more sophisticated, I'd have loved this book. But regardless, I think it will appeal widely to the BookTok crew.

Was this review helpful?

Marlow Fin was found abandoned as a 6 year old in a storm. The Baek family adopts her and from that humble beginning a true star is born. Now Marlow is willing to grant her first ever personal interview about her life and perhaps give some hints to what happened to her missing sister Isla.

Through a series of media snippets, interviews and flashbacks it is clear that Marlow is not who she originally seemed to be. The question however is, what happened to her only advocate, her sister Isla. I sure didn't love Marlow but grandmother Moni was a character for the ages. Grab this novel and see if you can unravel the mystery ! #Lakeunionpublishing #BecomingMarlowFin #ellenwonsteil

Was this review helpful?

Families are complicated, some more than others. Super model Marlow Fin sits down for her only interview regarding the events surrounding a specific evening that changed her and her family’s lives forever. A night were Marlow’s sister, Isla was last seen, and a pool of her blood was found in a shed and on Marlow’s clothing. Could Marlow have killed the one person whom she swore she loved more than anyone?

Becoming Marlow Fin is an intricate tale of the Baeks, Patrick, Stella, their 8-year-old daughter, Isla, and grandmother, Moni, the Baeks seemed like every other working-class family on the block. But on their last day of vacation at their cabin, when the Baeks find 6-year-old abandoned Marlow in the woods, their entire world and house of cards start to crumble. As the years pass Marlow’s slight oddities as well as her beauty come more to light. Now at the top of her game, Marlow is a person of interest in her sister’s disappearance and possible murder.

Ellen Won Steil has crafted an intricate story that spans decades and several characters to unfold a fabulous story of how far a couple will go to become a family and what happens with the people and lies they leave behind. There is a lot of time jumping in the story and I wished it were a little less herky-jerky in that regard, but Steil wraps up all the loose ends nicely and the reader can easily follow.

This is a book worth reading. Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for this advanced reader copy. This is an uncompensated review.

Was this review helpful?

Marlow Fin is a famous actress and model who was found in the woods as a young child with no memory of where she came from. This is the story of Marlow and the family who found her. It is captivating, profoundly atmospheric, intense and unexpected. A powerhouse of a novel.

Was this review helpful?

I did not know what I was getting into with this book. But it was amazing! The best way that I can describe this book is Evelyn Hugo but if it was written by Riley Sager. Which is incredibly high praise, given that Evelyn Hugo is one of my favorite books and Riley Sager is one of the my favorite authors. This was truly an amazing read. For starters, I loved the multiple points of view. I loved getting Isla’s point of view parallel to Marlow’s interview. I found myself adoring Isla and the Marlow we saw through her eyes. I am still conflicted on my opinion of Marlow as seen in her interview, but the contrast between the two certainly added a lot to the story. The multiple points of view was an incredibly well done way of writing the story. Also well done was the thread of tension and growing feeling of dread we got throughout the entire book. It pulled me through the book, and made me quite paranoid. Though it might not be paranoia because it was well warranted. As the book went on, more and more drama and secrets were revealed, and the plot got darker and darker. While I could predict some twists, it didn’t make the plot any less riveting or dramatic. And the ending was nothing short of brilliant, and so satisfying. Overall, this was a truly fantastic read and I cannot recommend it enough!

Was this review helpful?

Wow! Just finished Becoming Marlow Fin and it knocked my socks off! Who is Marlow Fin? A terrified lost little girl found in the woods one stormy night along the shore of Lake Superior? The beautiful and glamorous model and actress who has graced fashion covers worldwide? Loving sister to Isla? Devoted granddaughter to Moni? Troubled “it” girl hounded by paparazzi and about to give the interview of her lifetime? She is all of these things and more. What’s behind her beautiful unforgettable eyes?
This is a thriller and a family drama with some roller coaster twists and turns. Marlow is young girl found one night outside during a terrible storm at the Baek’s lake cabin. She is traumatized, isn’t speaking and can’t remember anything before being discovered by Isla, the Baek’s daughter. The Baeks seem the picture perfect Korean American family with parents Patrick and Stella, and Moni, Isla’s beloved Korean grandma. When no trace of family or parents of Marlow can be found the Baeks adopt her and she becomes part of their family. But things aren’t what they seem…there is an undercurrent of anger and tension within the family. Patrick and Stella seem at odds concerning Marlow. Can Stella be loving mom to both Isla and Marlow? As Marlow grows into a beautiful young woman and a wildly successful supermodel and actress, Isla takes a backseat to her famous sister.
Despite the girls’ close childhood relationship tensions grow within the family. Something is clearly off and Isla gets caught up in a maelstrom her sister seems to have swirling around her.
The story is told thru Isla’s reflections and Marlow’s perspective in a sensationalized interview format. I thought this worked wonderfully. The tension build and builds until the very last page. I literally devoured the book to find out whether Marlow would come clean in the end and the family secrets revelaed!
Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for the chance to read this Advanced Reader Copy and I’m leaving this review voluntarily.

Was this review helpful?

𝐁𝐄𝐂𝐎𝐌𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐌𝐀𝐑𝐋𝐎𝐖 𝐅𝐈𝐍
𝐛𝐲 𝐄𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧 𝐖𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐭𝐞𝐢𝐥
𝐑𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐃𝐚𝐭𝐞 07/23/2024

I’m going to stick with the questions for this book due to the fact it’s not releasing for another 10 months. It will be worth the wait for any months or days of waiting on this book. It’s so so so good 5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟S̤̈T̤̈Ä̤R̤̈S̤̈

1. What was your favorite part of the book? * the interview chapters. I devoured them.

2. How quickly did you guess the twist? * I thought I had it figured out 34667 times. Wrong on all guesses. Stumped me to the end. 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

3. Discuss the point of view and whether it worked for this book. * the different POVs past and present along with the interview were absolutely what made me stay up until 1132 pm. Such a page-turner

4. Which characters in the book did you like best? * Sawyer and Oliver. Hands down a tie. I loved them both

5. Did you find the author’s writing style easy to read or hard to read? Why? How long did it take you to get into the book? *super easy and unputdownable to read. Why? See question 3 for the answer. It took maybe 8 pages to know I was finishing it today ❤️

#ellenwonsteil #netgalleyreader#netgalleyreviewer #parkrowbooks #amazonpublishing #bookstagram #bookworm #instabook #booknerd #bookstagrammer #booklover #bookblogger #thrillerreads #pageturner #twistybooks #psychologicalthriller

Was this review helpful?

Isla Baek found an abandon 6 year old girl Narlow in the woods near her family holiday cabin. Marlow didn't have any memory of how she got there and suffered from PTSD for months. Baek family soon adopted her, but her childhood was far from happy. Until her big break in her teens when Marlow found herself in the centre of fashion industry, becoming successful, world famous model.

But now her sister Isla is missing, and everyone thinks Marlow murdered her. In an exclusive tell-all interview, Marlow is finally going to reveal her dark secrets.


This book is absolutely brilliant. I just couldn't put it down. I loved the mysterious, dark atmosphere  and build-up of suspense. It is so cleverly constructed,  I didn't know till the very end if the crime was even ever committed.
Gripping, compelling, and unputdownable. It's definitely my kind of book. It's going to be a big title in 2024!

Was this review helpful?

Ellen Von Steil weaves a narrative filled with unexpected twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very end. The Baek family—Patrick, Stella, their daughter Isla, and Patrick's mother, Moni—spend a seemingly idyllic week at their lake cabin. Despite their status as a blended Korean-American family, everything appears perfect.

However, beneath the surface, cracks begin to appear in Patrick and Stella's relationship, leading to heated arguments. Moni endeavors to shield Isla from the turmoil, but the young girl senses that something is amiss without understanding the root cause.

As their lake retreat concludes, Isla stumbles upon a young black girl, Marlow, alone in the woods during a violent storm. With no recollection of how she arrived there, Marlow is adopted by the Baek family. Yet, it becomes apparent that Marlow harbors a mysterious and dark side.

Fast forward to age 17, Marlow is discovered by a modeling agent and becomes a global sensation as Marlow Fin. Breaking her usual secrecy, Marlow grants an interview to a carefully chosen journalist, unraveling the enigma surrounding her. The narrative unfolds through perspectives alternating between Isla, Marlow's interview, and an intrigued stranger fixated on the Baeks.

Ellen Von Steil's storytelling is masterful, guiding the reader through a rollercoaster of unexpected twists, culminating in an ending that defies expectations. This book is a testament to Steil's writing prowess, and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Was this review helpful?

My thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book.

I found this book so gripping that I could not stop reading until I finished it. The ending left me gasping. I re-read it a few times to make sure of its implications. I’m pretty sure those are the trademarks of a successful thriller.

Although only one of the two main characters is named in the title, the book is a dual narrative that juxtaposes a chapter each for Marlow and her adoptive sister Isla Park. It also has multiple timelines that crisscross, beginning in 1995 Minnesota and ending in 2022.

Isla’s doting father Patrick Baek is a literature professor of Korean descent, her mother Stella is a beautiful and intelligent white woman, and they dote on their precocious only child. No one adores her as much
as her paternal grandmother, Halmoni, or Mini as everyone knows her, who lives with her son’s family, and cooks and cares for everyone—family and friends alike. She particularly loves feeding Isla’s friends, Sawyer and Oliver.

Marlow’s story begins on a classic dark and stormy night in 1995. Five year old Isla and her parents and grandmother are happily ensconced at their isolated cabin near Grand Marais, Minnesota, a family tradition for the 4th of July weekend. A late night hurricane-force storm disrupts their usually peaceful last night there. But even more terrifying than the weather is what Isla discovers when she runs out into the night in pursuit of a little girl she believes had been watching her through the window during their entire stay.

This is the beginning of a fraught new episode for the picture-perfect family. When the speechless little girl is released from hospital, the Baeks take her to their home in Henley. Patrick and Mini are absolutely in love with her; Isla comes and goes, mostly awestruck but also feeling inferior because of Marlowe’s great beauty. Stella is withholding at best, and openly hostile at worst.

The first of the present-day Marlow chapters is presented as a televised ´tell-all’ uncovering the secrets of her life with the family that eventually adopted her when no one came forward to claim her as their own. Marlow by this time is a world-famous model, actress and singer. She has offered this opportunity to an African American newscaster whose own experiences with racism makes her—half-Black herself-especially worthy of such a scoop.

Marlow has changed her name to Fin, French for ´the end’, an act that signifies her estrangement from her family, which is forceful and ‘no holds barred.’ Interspersed between the shocking revelations of her self-centred confessional are the stories of those whose life she has touched, and rarely for good, especially Isla’s. But Marlow’s determination to tell the story as the only possible truth, while gaining her much public attention and sympathy, is ultimately challenged by her lesser-light big sister, who takes the last word to herself. The costs to all are enormous.

Was this review helpful?

"Becoming Marlow Fin" by Ellen Won Steil is a compelling novel that explores the mysterious life of Marlow Fin, a troubled actress known for her beauty and success. The narrative weaves together family secrets, unspeakable lies, and the consequences of the past.

The story unfolds in 1995 when young Isla Baek discovers an abandoned six-year-old Marlow in the woods near the Baek family's lakeside cabin. Marlow, with little memory of her past, is adopted into the Baeks' seemingly idyllic Midwest life, becoming Isla's enigmatic new sister. However, Marlow's presence turns out to be unnerving and disruptive, leading to a shocking tragedy that changes their lives forever.

The novel shifts to the present, where the whole world awaits a prime-time interview in which Marlow is expected to reveal everything. The narrative spans decades, gradually unraveling the truth about Marlow, the impact of family secrets, and the extreme lengths people go to in the name of love.

The exploration of Marlow's enigmatic past and the anticipation surrounding her revelation creates a sense of mystery and intrigue. The novel delves into the complexities of family dynamics, the consequences of keeping secrets, and the toll that the past can take on the present.

The themes of beauty, success, and the dark underbelly of fame add depth to the narrative. Marlow's story becomes a lens through which the author examines the price of societal expectations, the burdens of a public persona, and the sacrifices individuals make to fit into predetermined roles.

The book's structure, with a dual timeline and a central revelation, builds suspense and engages readers in Marlow's journey of self-discovery. The exploration of memory, identity, and the lasting impact of traumatic events contributes to the emotional depth of the story.

Overall, "Becoming Marlow Fin" promises a riveting narrative that combines elements of mystery, family drama, and the high stakes of fame. Ellen Won Steil's storytelling is likely to captivate readers as they unravel the layers of Marlow's past and the truths that define her present.

Was this review helpful?

Who is Marlow Fin? Where did she come from? Oh my does this story have several twists and unexpected turns for you!

Ellen Won Steil writes this story from multiple character perspectives, mainly the perspectives of Marlow and Isla. Marlow becomes part of Isla's family overnight, two sisters with two very different paths. Marlow's perspective is uniquely told through an interview format, both as an adult and as a celebrity. Isla's perspective is told through self narratives and reflections, both as a young girl and as a woman used to letting her sister steal the limelight.

If you are a fan of family dramas mixed with a little mystery and thrill, this is a story you will enjoy! And as a bonus, you get to follow in love with the endearing character, Moni. I hope everyone's family has a Moni!

Thank you Lake Union Publishing for providing this book for review consideration via NetGalley in exchange for my honest feedback. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

Oh my! I wish I could give more that 5 stars for Becoming Marlow Fin. So many twist and turns that keep me intrigued to the very end!!! Loved it!

Was this review helpful?