Hi friends! i’m excited to share my thoughts on a book that I’ve been lowkey kinda hyped to read ever since it came out!
TW/CW: murder, talk of suicide, mutilation, sexism
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.
First of all, I find myself just continually shocked by how little history I know of when it comes to non-Western countries. It’s a humbling realization, and something I’d like to improve. This book takes place in the Joseon dynasty in Seoul, South Korea. I know a little bit of Korean, and several aspects of the Korean culture, but I was so interested reading about every little tidbit of information that was so unlike Western society! You can tell June Hur put so much research into this story, and it really shines through. This is also OwnVoices for the Korean representation!!
Seol is a young Korean girl, an indentured servant to the police bureau*. So of course, she hardly has any rights. It was so frustrating at times to watch her connect the dots, because she truly is a clever protagonist, and be unable to say anything simply due to her gender and status in life. I think the author handled these subjects well.
*i almost spelled bureau right the FIRST TIME i think i am acquiring another braincell to make two whole ones, my friends
AHHH BUT ALSO THIS IS SO EMOTIONAL. Hur’s writing evoked such strong emotions and such a deeply realized setting, that you can’t help but feel all the things. No spoilers but yeah the ending for sure had me tearing up.
I will say that I unfortunately didn’t find myself as invested as I would have liked. Around 80% of the way through was when the mystery finally started capturing my attention in the way mysteries are supposed to. I was also a bit confused but to be fair, I was listening to the audiobook at 3x speed so um that’s probably just my bad. But either way, I definitely didn’t click with this book the way I wanted to, and it was mainly the last 20% that really lived up to the hype for me.
That’s it! This is a shorter review but I hope I covered everything…that was in my brain. I really need to start taking notes hehe. Tell me:
Is this on your TBR?
Are there any historical Korean books you’d recommend?