So I’m also supposed to be on the Instagram tour for this, but I don’t have my book copy yet so I’ll share my eARC when I can! In the meantime, thank you so much to the team at Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this tour! I was dying to read this one after I preordered, and then when I found out that I got news that I was accepted for the tour, I couldn’t help but be super proud of myself!
I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak;
Ears, but I mustn’t hear;
Eyes, but I mustn’t see.
1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.
As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.
But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.
June Hur’s elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.
JUNE HUR (‘Hur’ as in ‘her’) was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except for the time when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. Most of her work is inspired by her journey through life as an individual, a dreamer, and a Christian, with all its confusions, doubts, absurdities and magnificence. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto, and currently works for the public library. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.
Her debut novel THE SILENCE OF BONES (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 2020) is a murder mystery set in Joseon Dynasty Korea (early 1800s), and also a coming-of-age tale about a girl searching for home. It was recently selected by the American Booksellers Association as one of the top debuts of Winter/Spring 2020.
She is represented by Amy Bishop of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club, Netgalley, and Feiwel & Friends for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.
Oh my gosh. I think this is one of my favorite novels to date and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to read this! I don’t think I’ve ever come across a YA Historical Mystery novel set in 1800s Korea before, dealing with the murder of highborn women and having to solve that mystery. I also don’t remember ever coming across a YA historical fiction novel set in 1800s Korea before either, which was such a huge selling point for me. I’m honestly so glad that this ended up being Hur’s debut novel because it was absolutely perfect and brilliant.
During this period, damo are women that work at the police bureau to interact with other women on official capacities – whether they interview female members of the family or move dead women victims from a crime scene to the morgue. Because of the strict laws in Joseon (Korea), men are not allowed to touch women that aren’t directly related to them, which is explained in the novel. In most cases, the damo are women that studied to become palace nurses but didn’t get the test scores to pass. Being a damo is considered a lowly position, and for girls like Seol, it is basically an indentured servant position. However, Seol has such a curious mind and is so inquisitive to the world around her and the workings of what goes on in the police world that getting the opportunity to be involved in certain cases teaches her a lot of things.
In the beginning we are able to see the workings of classism and religion involved in Joseon when we see how the police bureau reacts to the deaths of the common people versus Lady O. We also see the difference in reactions from those that were killed that believed and practiced Catholicism opposed to Buddhism or Confucianism. Since following Western practices were considered illegal, those that were killed that believed in those practices weren’t mourned as much. It makes sense, although it was also really sad to see because they are all still the people of Joseon.
We even see how Seol is able to do what she needs to do, even going as far as to shoot a wild tiger that is almost about to kill Inspector Han when they are on the hunt for a missing suspect in the murder case of Lady O. None of the other male officers even thought to try to help their commanding officer, and that part just really impressed me. Again this really just showed me that women really need way more credit for what they are willing to sacrifice and do because they can get way more ballsy than men twice their size can do.
Ugh I loved this book! I seriously have found my next favorite author and I’m so excited to support more of Hur’s work.
I’m really curious to see what Hur would have picked for her dream cast! I always get curious to see what the author has in mind.
I’m so glad that I was finally able to get all of my reviews up before the due date for today. Usually I’m so late because I’ll fall asleep after not being able to stay up the entire day and just work for as long as I can. But I pushed through and stayed up until past 2am to get this done. I wanted it to be done well. So here it is. Let’s hoping I actually get my Bookending Spring post for today done when it’s supposed to be done.