The Silence of Bones

The Silence of Bones
Age Range
Release Date
April 21, 2020
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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.

June Hur's elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.

Editor review

1 review
Stunning and immersive historical fiction
Overall rating
Writing Style
June Hur’s THE SILENCE OF BONES follows Seol, a young woman indentured to the police in 1800s Joseon (Korea). Her role is not to solve crimes, no matter how sharp her mind is, but to assist the inspectors and carry out chores. When she isn’t helping them, she’s looking for her brother, lost to her and her older sister years ago. When a noblewoman is murdered, Seol becomes entangled in a strange web of politics, religion, and dark mystery. Seol has to determine who she can and can’t trust before it’s too late.

What captured me most in THE SILENCE OF BONES is the setting. June Hur paints rich details of an era and country that are rarely explored in North American YA. I left nearly every chapter with a list of items to research and read more about. Even if you aren’t particularly interested in history, Hur’s writing is compelling and uniquely immersive. Seol’s world feels three dimensional, and I found myself losing track of time multiple times while reading.

The themes of family, boundaries, truth, and justice are beautifully nuanced. Seol learns that no one is perfect, not even the people we admire the most. Truth can be silenced or omitted in a way that changes an entire story. I love her journey in discovering what these themes mean to her and how they direct her actions.

THE SILENCE OF BONES is a haunting, memorable debut from an author I hope we see much more from.
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