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.
I had seen this one around quite a lot online and it looked pretty interesting. I knew I wanted to give it a shot at some point, but I wasn’t sure when I was going to get to. It didn’t seem like a book I would normally read, so I put it off. But, I recently had the urge to give it a try, so I did. And I am very, very glad I did. Trigger warnings: torture, abuse, suicide, death, gore
I’ve never really found a historical fiction books that I really love. The genre and I don’t really get along and I always find myself getting bored or frustrated with the plot, characters, and writing style. That’s probably one of the reasons I put off reading this one as long as I did.
I am very, very pleased to report that this is a historical fiction book that I love. I found everything related to the time period fascinating. I think I’ve been focusing too much on Western historical fictions, when there is so much more out there.
Alright, I feel like anything that I write is going to feel clunky compared to how eloquent and amazing this book is. It’s the kind of book where I want to write about it in such a way that does it justice. It’s hard to explain how amazing it is, but I’m going to try.
First off, the writing was something to behold. Hur has such an incredible way with words and I am very much looking forward to reading absolutely anything that she writes next. She’s up there with Rachel Lynn Solomon on the list of authors that I’ll read anything and everything they write, even if it sounds like something I would normally wouldn’t read. She’s that good a writer, that I will give anything she writes a chance because her writing style is so fantastic. It’s light and airy in a way, but it still dives into the depths of the horrors that are happening. It creates a realistic picture, while also seeming like something more.
I’m also wary of mysteries, since I tend to get antsy and want to just know everything right away haha. But this book managed to keep everything interesting and keep me engaged, while also pulling the threads of the mystery together. Seol was a great character that I wanted to keep going along with whatever she was doing. I wanted to keep finding things out with her. I wanted to learn more about her. I did have a bit of a hard time keeping all the characters straight, what secrets were hiding where, what people knew and didn’t know, and how everything tied to together. Despite this, I was still able to get a good understanding of what was going on. And in the end, the mystery was very well done. It had so many layers and it evolved so much, in such a smart way. I really applaud the author for keeping all these threads straight and coming up with this!
Speaking of Seol, I really, really loved her. She was sweet in a fierce way, if that makes sense. She’s curious, in a life where she shouldn’t be curious. She has a fierce loyalty and she craves the truth. She craves knowledge. She wants to do the right thing, but she also doesn’t want to overstep her boundaries, but she also wants to do what is right for her. She was a really great character, with a lot of layers.
I also really liked how there was no romance in this book. It focuses more on family bonds, the mystery, the historical aspect, and the plot. I dunno, I just thought it was cool.
This book is so beautifully written. It’s plot evolves in a way that it is completely different from the start of the book. The characters were brilliant. All of it was just really, really well done. And I really, really loved it. It’s such a good book.
Thank you for reading!