THE SILENCE OF BONES
by June Hur
Expected publication: 21 April 2020 by Feiwel & Friends
Genres: young adult, historical fiction, mystery
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.
I received digital copy review from Feiwel & Friends via FFBC Tours. This does not affect my review in any way; all opinions are my own.
Trigger Warning: violence, death of a family member, suicide, mutilation.
The Silence of Bones is murder mystery book sets in Joseon Dynasty that follows a young police berau’s servant, Seol, who becomes a part of a big investigation of the death of a noblewoman. Somehow, the investigation tangles with Seol’s family and past that leaves a layered story, in which readers are expected to follow and solve as the story goes.
The Silence of Bones is one of the book that leaves you begging for more clues so you can have your own little investigation throughout the book. This is a book that will make you guessing and connecting the dots that are served for you. I love unexpected turn and twist in book, and I love when author is making us frustrated with the hints but yet you can’t still guess the outcome. For her debut novel, June Hur is giving me a great impression here.
June Hur is not going to let you give up on her book, because it is beautifully written and her writing is consistent from the beginning until the end. Every phrase is balancing each other, even foreshadowing the climax of the book. I can say that, she is wicked like that.
ALL CHARACTERS ARE WELL WRITTEN AND SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT
Authors tend to push aside minor characters because they’re irrelevant to the story or to give the main characters more ‘screentime’ than the rest. Minor or side characters are often written two dimensionally with no strong personality or motive. It’s tricky to write minor characters and make them feel alive when you’re writing a first person POV. But June Hur? She’s not like that.
I don’t know how she does it, but, every characters are well written have their own motive and goal prior to the murder and investigation. June Hur takes her time to develop characters that feel so human. Are they perfect? No. They have their own dirty laundry to carry during the entire investigation.
Seol, our main character narrator, is introduced as someone with determination, curiosity and strong mind. She comes to the capital of Joseon with one mission in mind and even it feels so hopeless, Seol still continues to look for the closure she would gain with her own mission. All the conversations and interactions Seol have with people, I can conclude that she is a person who is very loyal, but she won’t let her royalty blinded her from taking hard decision. Although she is naive and reckless, I admire her dedication to her job. Like I said earlier, all characters have their own motives that when combined together, they are all actually hints and clues we need to uncover. I appreciate this so much, but unfortunately, I don’t really feel connected with the characters. While reading this, I feel like following the investigation and waiting for the murder to be captured, rather than hearing a friend telling their story. That is my only reason why I don’t give this book a higher rating.
ATMOSPHERIC AND THRILLING
I’m not an #ownvoices reviewer for this one so I can’t speak of the cultural and historical aspects of this book. But, I can talk about the world building and how I feel about her writing about that.
If we talk about the world building, it feels atmospheric it was easy for me to imagine the surrounding. I suggest you to read this book during rainy day because it will hits you differently. While writing this review, I still can feel the cold and terrifying atmosphere during the investigation.
As for the custom that is showed throughout the book, I have to look up few things for my better understanding. It is not because June Hur isn’t descriptive with her world building, but, I have little knowledge with Joseon dynasty and I found myself learning new things as I turn the pages.
Is the world building confusing to me? Not at all! It was very easy to me to imagine the things and June Hur does not use lyrical phase that may confuse some people. It was easy to understand. I fall in love with the way June Hur described the surrounding around Seol; it is detailed but not in an overwhelming way.
I feel like The Silence of Bones would gain many attention for readers from various age range. To be honest, just because Seol is still sixteen years old, I feel like this book is not actually fall in the young adultbook. I feel like it’s more general fiction than young adult, though I’m not complaining. I recommend for you to read this if you love story driven, fast paced book. Now, onto the excerpt and author information!
Fate. A shackle as solid as truth— unchangeable, unmovable. On the day of my departure, my sister had told me how long I was bound by the government to serve in the police bureau, away from home, from family. For one generation, she’d whispered.
My entire life.
That is, I would be free by the age of forty-one, as old as death itself.
A thunder of fluttering wings filled the sky in all directions, the birds overhead taken to flight. A shriek in the distance pierced the air; a terrified horse. Officer Kyŏn charged ahead, while it took me a scrambling moment to realize what was happening. I jabbed my heels into Terror’s side and followed him through the thicket, over the protruding roots, branches hitting my face.
Then we reached a glade and my heart stopped. Across the stream stood Inspector Han, his sleeve blood-soaked, his hand inching toward the sword at his side. A matter of paces away prowled a tiger, a deep growl rumbling from its white- and- black- striped chest. Powerful paws with sharp claws. The beast looked as large as Inspector Han himself.
“Do not move,” the inspector said, though not to us. Past the thick cluster of leaves was a horse struggling on the ground, shaking its head as blood continued to ooze from its wounded side. And hunkered down behind the creature was Maid Soyi.
Unable to look away from the scene, I hissed to Kyŏn, “Shoot it!”
A muscle worked in Officer Kyŏn’s jaw. Clearly he was incensed at an order from a girl, but he drew out an arrow and nocked it to his bow. As he aimed, the iron point trembled. What resolve he had, I watched falter and crumble.
“I’ll do it.” I snatched the weapon from him and rode out into the glade for a better aim. My motion caught the tiger’s attention. Good. My fear had reached its climax, and another sensation flooded in, a powerful longing that churned within me: the desire to matter.
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.
ABOUT FFBC TOURS
The Fantastic Flying Book Club (FFBC) is organized by Patricia at The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club and Michelle at Pink Polka Dots Books. They have been part of the blogging community since September 2013 and started the FFBC tours later that same year. Check out the tour schedule for The Silence of Bones here!
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