Title: The Red Palace
Author: June Hur
Genre: YA Historical Fiction / Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: January 25th, 2022
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Thank you to the author and publisher for an earc to review! All opinions are my own.
“To enter the palace means to walk a path stained in blood…
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.” (Goodreads)
**The quote may change before publication date**
I was so excited when I got the email from the author saying I had early access to this title! I have read her two previous books and they are so intriguing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, she makes historical fiction a thrilling adventure and I love that she tries to incorporate actual historical events with more information about the specific event at the end of the book. Plus, this was my favorite by far! Her writing gets better and better with each book.
The book is told through one point-of-view: Hyeon. It all begins when her and her friend, Jieun, are handpicked to become nurses in the Red Palace. The name for the palace is quite accurate and this quote is quite fitting for the book:
Uneasiness settled into my bones, and the warnings I’d been given echoed through my mind.
To enter the palace means to walk a path stained in blood, our medical teachers had whispered. There will be bloodshed. I only hope it will not be yours.
It definitely doesn’t seem like a welcoming place or even one I would want to work at, ha. But, due to Hyeon’s own background, being a vulgar commoner and bastard, Hyeon very much wants to make a name for herself and not be seen by her class or as an illegitimate child. She has put in a lot of hours of studying to be a good nurse. I can respect that! I also respect her willingness to help secretly with the solving of the crime even when it puts her in danger. She has guts!
Like with any book there are characters that I liked less and that award would go to her father and the commander of the police bureau. They were just big dillweeds and I couldn’t stand them. I will say that her father became less of a pain by the end but still not enough to make me feel sorry for him though.
There was one character that did surprise me the most and that was Hyeon’s mother. There is a lot between them as mother and daughter and it puts a strain on their relationship. Hyeon does go through a lot of growth when it comes to this relationship and I loved seeing her realize that the way she perceived her mother wasn’t entirely the truth.
This book is quite intense when it comes to the plot and I do think it is her most gruesome book that the author has written. It does talk about murder and goes into detail has to how they died. Some books can be too much when it comes to things like this but I think the author did it well and it wasn’t over the top. A lot of the characters have secrets so the plot also keeps you intrigued as everything starts to unravel.
Many of the plot twists were surprising and I didn’t even guess who the killer could be! After it was all explained it made so much sense. I do like how the killer was painted it led to some thinking on my part as to the why’s and reasoning behind committing such heinous acts.
Even though this book can be heavy with the topics about murder, there is a slight romance between Hyeon and another character. I did like the moments they shared together as it gave the reader some hope.
The book also wraps up nicely and gives us a taste as to what happened to a lot of the characters that were present throughout the book.
Overall, this was a fantastic read! As always, this author writes historical fiction well and even though it’s not my favorite genre I will literally read all of her books, haha. If you haven’t tried any of her books yet, I’d recommend you at least try one!