The Red Palace
by June Hur
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Releasing on January 25th, 2022
YOUNG ADULT FICTION—Historical, Mystery/Thriller
Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, eighteen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father’s approval.
But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon’s closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher’s innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation.
In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed.
June Hur, critically acclaimed author of The Silence of Bones and The Forest of Stolen Girls, returns with The Red Palace—a third evocative, atmospheric historical mystery perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Kerri Maniscalco.
Trigger/Content Warning(s): Mass Murder, Violence, Stabbing, Injuries, Blood, Death, Estranged Familial Relationships, Mentioned Decapitation, Revenge, Beatings of Prisoners, Police Violence, Wrongful Arrests/Imprisonment
*I WAS PROVIDED A DIGITAL GALLEY BY THE PUBLISHER IN RETURN FOR MY HONEST REVIEW. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION*
There’s something about June Hur’s books that makes me crave in an unknown, almost beastly way.
The Red Palace was a bit hard to get into, I’ll admit. The beginning didn’t hold my attention all that well, and I found that it was missing that special pull that the author’s previous release The Silence of Bones had. However, once getting past that slight percentage of pages, I was enraptured and unable to turn away.
June Hur has a writing style that dictates a show of knowledge and experience all at once. It’s clear that research was done into the topic the book was focused on, but it also gives insight to the detail-oriented and attentive focus this author has put into her story. It made the reading experience more fruitful and enjoyable for me.
Along with that, I adore Hur’s characters. Hyeon’s character was someone I could easily picture and connect to. Hur made it possible for readers to “step into the shoes” of her characters, in a sense, and it was like I was able to hear Hyeon’s thoughts and see her movements as the story progressed. The writing made it all the more alluding to her decisions, and I really loved seeing her character develop from being stubborn and upholding of promises to someone who was finally learning the meaning of her life’s lessons.
I will say, Hur had me guessing until the very end who the culprit was in the grand scheme of things. Despite Eojin being trustworthy to the reader, I still had my suspicions, as I did with everyone the book happened to mention. Eojin, Hyeon’s father, the prince, and so many more had me wary of who to trust. With the massive amount of character development for each, it truly made it a secure guessing game, and I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed into it.
Lastly, I truly did like the entirety of the plot. This book was crafted in such a way that it felt reminiscent of The Silence of Bones while also taking care to uphold a new and different story. I loved that we were given a lot of imagery of the capital, and even outside the capital, that this book took place in, but I also really enjoyed the subtle romance that was added into the story. It wasn’t overwhelming in the sense that it “came out of nowhere” but more so it was weaved into the plot in such a delicate way that it was clear it was supposed to be there and did cater to a bit of the story after all.
Overall, I will say this ended up surpassing my expectations, and for that, I rate this book 4.5 stars. June Hur is a masterful story crafter and writer, and I’m aching in wait for whatever she might release next.
June Hur 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. When she’s not writing, she can be found journaling at a coffee shop. 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 (Indies Introduce).
She is represented by Amy Bishop of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC.