Historical Fiction

The Red Palace: An Intricate Historical Mystery With a Dash of Romance

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. These are my personal, honest opinions. Thank you.*

4/5 Stars

Author: June Hur

Publisher/Imprint: Feiwel & Friends

Edition: Hardcover, 329 Pages

Publication Date: January 25, 2022

A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!


Book Synopsis

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.

June Hur, critically acclaimed author of The Silence of Bones and The Forest of Stolen Girls, returns with The Red Palace—a third evocative, atmospheric historical mystery perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Kerri Maniscalco.

Book Review

I wanted to love and be loved.

I wanted to be known.

I wanted to be understood and accepted.

-June Hur, The Red Palace

Initial Thoughts

1A63778D-9D68-4B92-934C-6388213816ECHello, everyone. I hope your weekend is off to a good start! Have you been reading anything good lately? This past week, I finished reading The Red Palace, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you. This was my first time reading a book by June Hur, and I certainly intend to read more in the future!

Here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • This was a really enjoyable historical mystery set in 1758 Joseon (Korea)! I’d never read a book set in this place during this time period, so it was a new experience for me.
  • At first, there were quite a few unfamiliar names/terms for me to get used to in this story, but I got a better grasp by the end of the book.
  • This book has a pretty good, consistent pace although the chapters could sometimes feel a little long. (This is more of a personal preference thing; I feel like shorter chapters help me move more quickly through a story.)
  • But there is a bit of action and romance sprinkled throughout, which helped keep my attention.
  • This book is also about court intrigue/politics and explores the roles of women in this society as well.
  • The mystery is intricate and well thought out; it kept me on my toes!

‘We are women,’ she continued, ‘and nothing short of death stops us from doing precisely what we wish to do.’

-June Hur, The Red Palace

Characters & Romance

56E0261A-ABDA-4856-868B-16D31DDCBCA5Here is a brief overview of the main characters and romance:

  • Hyeon is a nurse and also the illegitimate daughter of a lord. She very much wants to impress her father but clashes with him when she teams up with a young inspector to investigate a recent massacre. I really admired her determination and desire to excel in all she does despite her low status in society.
  • Jieun is Hyeon’s fellow friend and also a nurse. She reads romantic literature and secretly likes to play matchmaker. She was a very good friend to Hyeon, and I’m glad we got to see such a friendship in this book.
  • Eojin is the new young, intelligent police inspector and also happens to be Jieun’s cousin. He has a different way of thinking that sometimes clashes with the ways of society. I admired how Eojin treated Hyeon with respect, even when other people wouldn’t.
  • The romance is sooo sweet! I loved the tender moments that Hyeon and Eojin had together! Their banter is adorable! There are even moonlit rendezvous involved 🙂 I enjoyed watching their friendship develop as their feelings bloomed into something more.

‘We must value the lives of others. And those that are most vulnerable are the most precious of all.’

-June Hur, The Red Palace

Final Thoughts

The relationship between Hyeon and her parents was interesting, and I would have liked to have seen a little more interaction between Hyeon and her father, who comes across as quite harsh sometimes. But I thought the moment they have at the end of the book felt realistic.

At times, I was also slightly confused about which buildings are considered to be within the palace/which buildings are located inside the main “gates” that are repeatedly mentioned. I think a map would have been useful in this instance, as it was difficult for me to keep track of these things mentally.

But overall, I really enjoyed this book and gave it a solid 4 stars! I would definitely recommend to readers who are interested in YA historical mysteries or in works by Asian authors in general. Happy reading!

*Content Warnings: Some scenes are bloody, as the cover implies. Violent wounds on dead bodies are described.*

Copyright © 2022 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)

Up Next on My TBR: Edgewood

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