ARC Review: THE RED PALACE by June Hur

I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in dark brown on white next to red and black paint-like image of a girl and a buidling edge
Genre: Historical Mystery
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: Standalone


Book cover for THE RED PALACE: title in red on paint-like image of a girl in red hues

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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


June Hur has done it again, crafted another deliciously devious historical murder mystery.

All June Hur’s mysteries so far have involved a tension between truth and cover-up for political reasons. This time, the political web is enlarged, and the protagonist is directly (rather than indirectly) tangled in it as we enter the royal palace, where one misstep around all the political factions will lead to death.

Unlike a lot of contemporary mysteries, which can feel very frenetic, the tension in June Hur’s books all have this slower, constant throb of tension. There’s a slower pace to them. This draws out the tension into something akin to dread that makes these mysteries even more gripping. It feels like a really deft signature writing style now, three books in.

You know something awful and world shattering is going to happen (or already has and the protagonist is about to stumble over it), and that it might not always be allowed into the open because it’s not only the murderer covering matters up. The slower pace really lets that dread and anticipation sink in (as well as providing the time for the world to be beautifully built around the characters.)

The world feels so real and touchable. The settings jump out at you, but also feel rendered in the perfect way to add to the sense of foreboding. There are so many lovely details in the clothes and objects that help flesh out the world.

Thankfully, another June Hur book has been announced for next year!

Read my reviews of other books by June Hur:


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