The Red Palace -- YA Historical Fiction Perfect for Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

As May marches on, we continue to look at Asian and Pacific Island heritage products. Today I am sharing a historical fiction young adult novel that takes place in Korea in 1758. It is The Red Palace by June Hur.

From the Publisher:

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.

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.

From Me:

It was a different time and a different culture. It was with the penalty of death to accuse the royal family. Yet, the police inspector, Eojin, and a palace nurse, Hyeon, are determined to find the truth of who killed the nurses and woman of the royal court. Each has his/her own personal reasons to find the truth. The book takes us into this different time and place. A place where status matters. A place where the royal court has spies. A place of many rules--both laws and etiquette. The culture of the Korean capital is described well and the reader steps into this mysterious and dangerous world. The story is told by the view of Hyeon. Her status is low but through hard work she has become a palace nurse. It is her dream job, and she hopes it will make her father proud. The story is well developed, and the characters are very well developed. There is danger and mystery as well as a bit of love and friendship and family relations thrown in. 

I love how this book weaves a story based on a historical event that young adults will enjoy reading. Then throughout the story the reader also learns about the historical Korean culture as well. In the Author's Notes June shares a bit of the research she did about Prince Jangheon, and his terrible crimes as well as a specific murder of a nurse. The book is full of the various relationships--the concubines and palace women and the story of their power behind the scenes. The roles of women and how they were viewed in Korea in this time period is also prevalent. I found this book interesting and a very good read. The mystery pulls the reader in and one does not want to put the book down until the end. I hope you will check it out!