Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, eighteen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father’s approval. But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon’s closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher’s innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation. In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed.
I’m a huge fan of June Hur’s book, so of course I was looking forward to The Red Palace. I was looking forward to her first book with a romance in it, and I was just looking forward to more historical fiction and murder mysteries! Plus, a palace soaked in blood, with politics and secrets twisting through the hallways. It sounded very, very good, and I was eager to see what I would think of it!
I love historical fictions by June Hur, she writes such fantastic mysteries, with such great characters, and such great characters.
I really, really loved Hyeon. She’s so determined, and so dedicated to being the very best she can be. She wants to excel so much that her father can’t help but notice her. And this pushes her into trying to solve a string of brutal murders. She cares so deeply, and she wants so desperately for someone to care for her. Though, I wish the emotional side of her story was delved into a bit more. It felt like the story moved mostly through the mystery, through solving it. And that’s fine! I just would have personally preferred more of Hyeon’s emotions to be featured.
The romance was also something that I really liked. Both of them are so tentative to open to the other, but both of them are starting to like each other. And there is the fake marriage trope and there’s only one bed!!! Really, they’re two shy dorks trying to understand their feelings.
I kind of wish more of the book had taken place in the palace, but what parts did take place there were fantastic. The way it was written was downright gorgeous, and there was a scene that was absolutely chilling. The way it was excecated was top notch. It tied together dark intentions, murder, blood, and politics all in one, and it’s a chase scene! I know it’s weird to gush about one scene, but seriously, it really encompassed the darkness inside the palace and was just brilliant.
Also, Hur knows how to write mysteries, tying clues together, connecting characters, connecting motivations, and all within the historical setting. Honestly, it’s spectacular. And she writes it in such a way that it’s understandable and I could connect the dots as they came up, but was still surprised by the reveals.
All in all, this was a book I really liked. There were a couple things that I wished were heightened or wanted more of, but they didn’t hurt my overall enjoyment of the book! It’s wonderfully bloody and mysteries, and very good.
The Red Palace comes out January 25, 2022! You can add it on Goodreads and pre-order a copy in the meantime!