the silence of bones – june hur | review

The Silence of Bones by June Hur

Published April 21st 2020 by Feiwel & Friends
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Representation: Korean


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


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.


trigger and content warnings:

Told that her brother was buried at a mass site in Hanyang, Seol traveled there to find his grave. As an indentured servant in the police department, Seol’s tasked with crimes involving women. While she might be a police damo, this class of servants is considered low ranking. If they aren’t required to investigate crimes, police damo work as attendants to serve tea and handle miscellaneous tasks.

Based on Confucius’ law, males can’t touch women they aren’t directly related to. When a victim of a murderer turned out to be female, Seol became involved. Set in 1800 in Joseon Dynasty, the system forbids her from looking at her male superiors in the eye. Seol navigates this by recognizing body language and the tone of voices when people spoke.

“When we believe, we hold on to what we think is true. But when we have a conviction, that truth holds on to us.”

Inquisitive and curious, Seol’s mind kept her smart and aware of everything around her. Oftentimes, it does land her in tough situations when she started asking more questions and slowly inched near to the truth. While she used her wits when encountering dangers, I wished Seol communicated more because as her suspicions grew, though not without merit, felt like she just jumped to conclusions without concrete evidence.

As someone who likes true crime, the murder mystery got my head spinning because there was no knowing who the true killer was and why they would be committing such heinous crimes. June Hur took inspiration from real-life history to create the backdrop of the murders in the Joseon Dynasty. She flawlessly depicted the unyielding social structure that emphasized the purity of bloodlines and tradition for some while others are more open-minded. When foreigners and in extension, their religion, started to proliferate through the country, many were determined to prevent that but others were rebelling. June Hur achieved this without making the book overly political which I appreciated.

“Be brave and do what is right. For the weary and the frightened, create a paradise on the cold bones of this earth.”

June Hur has an immersive writing style. I could easily imagine myself in 1800 Korea. She laid a great amount of background for the religious aspect in The Silence of Bones, something that I didn’t think I would encounter. I couldn’t believe what I was reading at the end. Definitely wasn’t expecting myself to keep mumbling “what the heck” with silent tears rolling down my face. I just couldn’t.

    i did predict that the police officer she was close with was her brother but WHAT THE HECK, HE DIED!? like seol just realised inspector han was her brother, AND HE DIED!!!! omg my heart was shattered.

My conclusion is: what a spectacular murder mystery novel by June Hur! It’s her debut and it’s already so freaking good? I can’t wait for more.

let’s chat:
what do you think about the silence of bones? if you’re a fan of murder mysteries, this is the book for you.

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8 thoughts on “the silence of bones – june hur | review”

    1. thank you, abby! i don’t think june hur will ever disappoint me considering how hyped i am about reading the forest of stolen girls and the red palace. EXACTLY!!! i was happy until that moment, why couldn’t it last??? T.T

      Liked by 1 person

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