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Loyalties will be tested

Cover of The Silence of Bones
A review of The Silence of Bones by June Hur

June Hur's debut novel is a police procedural set in 1800 Joseon, Korea. Seol grew up in rural Korea but because of the family's poverty was sent by her sister to serve an indenture for the police bureau in Joseon. As an indentured servant she's to keep her mouth shut and her thoughts to herself as she cleans and runs errands. The monotony of that work occasionally broken when she's asked to help when a crime involves another woman. Males in 19th century Korea aren't allowed to touch non-familial women, thus Seol is called upon. When a young noblewoman is murdered, the detective assigned to the case pulls Seol into the investigation. And while she's happy to have something more interesting to do, she does worry about what her involvement can mean (for her own safety and future).

The Silence of Bones has atmosphere to spare and it's clear the author did her research as the story delves into issues of class, gender and religion. While this is a young adult murder mystery the complexities of the societal order and historical place and time in which Seol lives give this novel extra layers. And while the pacing lagged a little midway, I was never less than fascinated by Seol's story and world.

Jul 20, 2022