History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Review of The Silence of Bones by June Hur

The Silence of Bones by June Hur (Feiwel & Friends, 2020) is a historical young adult mystery set in early nineteenth century Korea, full of rich detail and wonderful characters. The mystery is also phenomenal, and it will keep you guessing all the way to the reveal!

Damo Seol is an indentured servant, bound to work with the police bureau. Under the strictures of law and gender of the time, the male police officers are not allowed to touch women suspects or even women murder victims, so they use the services of “damos” like Seol to handle women for them. In this capacity, Seol is brought in to a case when a noble woman is found murdered, and she continues assisting with the investigation both when women are involved and because her own curiosity and ability to notice things come in handy for the police she works with. Along the way, Seol learns about religious politics that threaten the people around her, both friends and foes, and a bit about her past.

I was drawn to this book because of my interests in Korea and history, and I’m exceptionally glad that I picked it up. The story was quick paced and engaging, and I simply adored Seol as the point-of-view character. While there were a lot of names to digest, especially when there were multiple members of the same family involved, I was able to keep track of them and their various relationships and personalities throughout. And unlike some mysteries, where the culprit becomes apparent quickly, I was still guessing who was responsible till nearly the end of the book!

If you enjoy mysteries and don’t mind a bit of blood and gore in a book, The Silence of Bones is a great read. It’s definitely well suited to young adult readers, and even some younger readers might find this book interesting, particularly if they have an interest in Korean history like me!

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