June Hur's elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody YA historical mystery tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.
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.
Praise for The Silence of Bones:
ABA Indies Introduce Selection
Junior Library Guild Selection
A 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominee
A 2021 ALA Rise Selection
2020 Freeman Award Honorable Mention
"At once haunting and evocative, June Hur's The Silence of Bones is a gorgeous, tightly-woven debut. Prepare to delve deep into the lush and dangerous world of Korea in the 1800's for a page-turner you won't soon forget." —Hafsah Faizal, New York Times-bestselling author of We Hunt the Flame
"This gripping drama is definitely one you're not going to want to miss." —Buzzfeed
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.