The Silence of Bones

June Hur. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-22955-7
Debut author Hur’s gritty mystery, set in the Joseon dynasty of 1800, centers Seol, a 16-year-old indentured servant to the Hanyang police. When the daughter of a high-ranking government official is found dead with her nose sliced off, Seol’s curiosity and impetuousness lead the enigmatic Inspector Han to recognize her sleuthing skills and promise post-investigation freedom if she cooperates. But things are not what they seem, and Seol’s own memories—of her father’s death; her mother’s suicide; and of her kind older brother, missing for 12 years—keep interfering with her duties. Hur builds suspense artfully, offering a noir-tinged atmosphere of late nights, mist-shrouded streets, and clandestine meetings. The Korean concept of han, as well as customs, language, and politics, are woven flawlessly into the narrative, which is firmly grounded in the novel’s historical basis: looming Catholic persecution, the Shinyu Bakhae of 1801. The reader is often one step ahead of the narrator, and some readers may wish to steer clear due to scenes of abuse and torture. Still, Seol’s determined pursuit of literacy and freedom, as well as the bittersweet ending, make for a memorable and worthwhile read. Ages 13–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 04/15/2020
Release date: 04/21/2020
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-250-76367-9
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