Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Silence of Bones by June Hur. This tour is being hosted by Fantastic Flying Book Club.
The Silence of Bones
by June Hur
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: April 21st 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Historical, Historical Fiction
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.
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.
This book was so good.
I admit to struggling in the beginning. I messed up on who the characters were more than once. But about 1/4 in, I was able to follow and was hooked.
Seol was a young girl working for the police. She wasn’t from the capitol and was a servant. Women are not treated equally, but the aristocratic women were mostly left alone. The police needed female officers to arrest female criminals and examine female victims. The men were not allowed. While Seol was very smart and determined, she wasn’t really taken too seriously. She had come to the capitol searching for her brother that left twelve years earlier. She couldn’t believe that he was dead. Seol was so easy to love. She was so curious and I loved that she spied on everyone. She was strong, caring, and loyal.
The first murder victim was a female with her throat slit and her nose cut off. Seol worked with the officers trying to gather facts about the girl that was killed and trying to figure out a motive. There ended up being more murders and Seol was pulled deeper into secrets from the past and present. A big one was Catholics. The heretics (catholics) were considered traitors. There was a Catholic priest hiding out and he needed to be stopped. Catholics were killed along with anyone helping them. There ended up being a fairly extended group that didn’t believe it was bad. They even brought in bibles late at night, risking everything.
Seol was like most indentured servants and never learned how to read. The men either ignored her or they attacked her. She refused to stay quiet in the background. During her time in the capitol, Seol started having memories of her brother and family. While the thoughts of finding him often consumed her, she threw herself into her work.
This book had so many secrets that kept coming out. It was hard to put down. I requested this because of the murder mystery, but I found so much more. Family, religion, loyalty, friendship, and indentured servitude.
I don’t want to ruin anything major from the book so I’m going to keep this mostly about Seol. She really did make the book so good. I gave this 4 1/2 stars rounded up to 5. I only didn’t go with 5 because the beginning was a bit confusing to me.
Thank you to the publisher for my review copy.
Warnings for servitude, sexism, suicide, murder, religious issues, beatings, torture, beheading, noses cut off, and death of animals for food (a part which mentioned killing a dog for food). It’s not an easy book to read at times, but I learned a lot from it. Please make sure you read the author’s note. It’s fascinating to read about the stories this book was based on.
With your determination, you can be anything you want.
For when grief swells around you like the sea, you must swim and keep your head above it. Do not drown in it.
Each new encounter is the result of karma; everything has its cause and effect.
Death, it was so final. A finality that did not discriminate, stealing both the young and old, rich and poor.
“I don’t like change,” I whispered. “I despise it.”
“We must learn to embrace the new seasons in our life. There is a season to gain, a season to lose; a season for peace, a season for war; a season to laugh, a season to mourn, and to betray.”
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.
Prize: Win a $30 gift card from an indie bookstore (US & Canada Only)
Starts: 15th April 2020
Ends: 29TH April 2020
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