Book Review

The Silence Of Bones

The Silence of Bones

  • Author: June Hur
  • Genre: YA Historical Fiction
  • Publication Date: April 21, 2020
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

CONTENT WARNING: gore, murder, slavery, violence, torture, suicide

Rating: 4 out of 5.

1800, Joseon.

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 politically charged investigation into the 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.

I remember hearing a lot of good things about this book, and I finally see why. I love a good historical fiction, and this one was especially intriguing to me because it took place in a much different setting than the typical European/American historical fictions that the market seems to be inundated with. Learning more about Korean history, society, and customs was absolutely fascinating to me, and Hur did it so beautifully, telling it just like a story but explaining things so it left me with information like a history lesson without me even realizing it.

The story itself got me hooked immediately. There’s action that starts right away, with not just the crime but a family mystery going on as well. I read furiously, trying to find out what was going to happen in the investigation and in Seol’s personal life. There were a couple of major plot twists that I figured out early on, but I wasn’t disappointed in any way by this. While the story is a little slow-paced, it’s haunting and atmospheric and gorgeously told. 

I found it incredibly easy to empathize with Seol’s character, put myself in her shoes, and feel as though I was walking right along with her. There were strong elements of classism, sexism, and religious intolerance throughout the story, but I truly appreciated how there was at least one character in the story who recognized Seol’s smart and shrewd mind. She was surprisingly good at her job, probably due to her strong sense of curiosity, which wasn’t an admirable quality in women of those times, but served her extremely well in this case. 

Beware — since this is a historical mystery surrounding a murder, there is some gore, blood, and some death. If you’re sensitive to these triggers, you may want to skip this one, but if not, don’t miss this book. It’s a good one.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 9

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