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Hwani's family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask. To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani's father—learns that thirtee Hwani's family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask. To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani's father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances, and so he returns to their hometown to investigate... only to vanish as well. Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago. After her father vanishes while investigating the disappearance of 13 young women, a teen returns to her secretive hometown to pick up the trail in this second YA historical mystery from the author of The Silence of Bones.


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Hwani's family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask. To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani's father—learns that thirtee Hwani's family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask. To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani's father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances, and so he returns to their hometown to investigate... only to vanish as well. Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago. After her father vanishes while investigating the disappearance of 13 young women, a teen returns to her secretive hometown to pick up the trail in this second YA historical mystery from the author of The Silence of Bones.

30 review for The Forest of Stolen Girls

  1. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    went into this thinking it would be a modern day YA mystery/thriller. so imagine my surprise when i found out the story is set in korea in the 1400s. it was definitely a pleasant surprise. i enjoyed the setting and how it lent for a unique investigation. even though forensics are completely different nowadays, it was interesting to see how hwani used the basics to gather evidence and formulate theories. i also think the information regarding the ming dynasty in china and how that tied into the p went into this thinking it would be a modern day YA mystery/thriller. so imagine my surprise when i found out the story is set in korea in the 1400s. it was definitely a pleasant surprise. i enjoyed the setting and how it lent for a unique investigation. even though forensics are completely different nowadays, it was interesting to see how hwani used the basics to gather evidence and formulate theories. i also think the information regarding the ming dynasty in china and how that tied into the plot was really fascinating, as that is a part of history that i dont know anything about. i also appreciated the humanistic side of this story and found hwani rekindling her sisterhood with maewol quite endearing. it gives some much needed positivity to an otherwise haunting story. the author mentions in her note at the end that the second book syndrome hit her hard, and i disagree. i think this is a really great story with a lot of engaging content. cant wait to see what she comes up with next! ↠ 4 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Althea | themoonwholistens ☾

    This really was just about sisters reconnecting through their experience of searching for their lost father in Joseon Era Korea. And I loved it for that. It was both a heartbreaking and heartwarming read and the kind of YA mystery-thriller that I actually enjoy. Even though this had topics of death (please check trigger warnings at the bottom) it didn’t feel heavy on the heart. my problem with Silence of Bones was that I was never hooked into the plot nor the characters but it was different since This really was just about sisters reconnecting through their experience of searching for their lost father in Joseon Era Korea. And I loved it for that. It was both a heartbreaking and heartwarming read and the kind of YA mystery-thriller that I actually enjoy. Even though this had topics of death (please check trigger warnings at the bottom) it didn’t feel heavy on the heart. my problem with Silence of Bones was that I was never hooked into the plot nor the characters but it was different since this felt like it had more of a personal touch. I loved the sister relationship and the subtle development throughout the story. It was sweet and built up on itself. You see how these sisters that were separated for so long slowly trust each other again and *that’s the heartwarming part*. There are strong family relationships, most especially sisterly and daughter-father relationships. It made me so soft and ultimately made the otherwise dark story feel warm and touching. “How fortunate she is, to be someone’s daughter.” The way the historical fiction aspect was played into the plot was spot on. The fact that it was mostly set in Jeju island was really fun to imagine even though I know it was in a different era, I enjoyed imagining myself being back in present day Jeju island. Definitely recommending the audiobook for this one if that's possible for you. The performance adds an extra layer to the story and brings the Joseon Korea to life. “You can choose to keep silent. But if you do, would you be pleased with that decision in the years to come?” I have to say that I wasn't as attached to the characters individually as much as I was with them as ensemble and how they interacted with one another… nonetheless, i still think the messages were well received. The writing style is definitely investing. It does play the line between whether or not it’s a supernatural mystery or psychological mystery… which I am now realizing that I am not always the biggest fan of. I like mysteries that are more concrete and decide what it is while being creative in that side that they choose (whether psychological or supernatural). But if you do like that kind of mystery, this is goes through that phase. The nuanced conversation on gender inequality and empowerment were very prevalent and builds up to the overall theme and message. And we all know how much I love nuanced discussions and thought-provoking themes. This is the kind of story you should read when you want something a little darker and mysterious but is also still incredibly wholesome while delivering all the emotional familial feelings. June Hur should keep putting out more of these historical mysteries. Or branch out. Either way, I'll keep reading their books for personal and unique touch she brings to the YA mystery genre that is so hard to find nowadays. I completely flew through this one and it's utterly transportive. — 4.0 — ⇢ content warnings// (view spoiler)[Child abuse, Death, Grief, Kidnapping, Mutilation, Poisoning, Sexual assault (referenced), Slavery, Suicide (mentioned) (hide spoiler)] ---------------------- *patiently waiting for my copy to arrive*

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I loved the cover and the title of THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS so much that I actually accepted an ARC without even bothering to look it up and see what it was about, which I literally never do, so you can imagine my surprise when I find out that it's a murder mystery set in Medieval Korea of all things! I mean, how unexpected. How welcome. Once I found out the book's premise, I was even more excited. I love reading things that are new an Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I loved the cover and the title of THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS so much that I actually accepted an ARC without even bothering to look it up and see what it was about, which I literally never do, so you can imagine my surprise when I find out that it's a murder mystery set in Medieval Korea of all things! I mean, how unexpected. How welcome. Once I found out the book's premise, I was even more excited. I love reading things that are new and different. THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS kind of has an Enola Holmes vibe to it, with the whole young lady detective thing. Hwani, the heroine, is looking into her father's disappearance while investigating a case that ended up haunting their entire family. A case involving a ghostly man in a white mask, missing girls, and a sinister forest. The author, June Hur, explores many interesting and complex themes in this book. I think my favorite is sisterhood and redemption. Maewol, Hwani's younger sister, has been living with a wise woman during all this time and has become estranged from Hwani. As the two of them become embroiled in the mystery, they end up growing closer and understanding one another in a way that they really couldn't while competing for their father's love. I do think that the book had a somewhat removed tone that made it difficult to become emotionally invested in the characters. It didn't really feel like I knew Hwani until the very end of the book. She was just kind of an impersonal vehicle driving the story along. The writing was very clean and the story was interesting and it was strongest when there were real emotional stakes. But at other times, reading this book was gruelingly slow and the uneven pacing made it feel like it was a debut work. That said, I did end up liking THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS. The afterword is also worth reading too, as the author talks about her historical inspirations for writing this work. The heroine is strong and capable and there's no romance; it's literally just about family and independence, which is kind of refreshing in books written for an age group that tend to be filled with unnecessary romantic subplots. Even though the pacing is uneven, the ending was great and there were some genuinely creepy moments that gave me chills and kept me turning the pages, wondering how everything would turn out. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 3 to 3.5 stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    karen

    SHOULD I BUY THIS TODAY YES OR NO??? *update - if i buy this today, i'm going to HAVE TO also buy at the same time, which inevitability real booknerds will understand. DOES THIS AFFECT THE VOTE? ** update - we all knew i was going to buy them both, right? and i SHOULD have known that as soon as i did, there would be a giveaway here on GR. good luck to you all! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/sh... SHOULD I BUY THIS TODAY YES OR NO??? *update - if i buy this today, i'm going to HAVE TO also buy at the same time, which inevitability real booknerds will understand. DOES THIS AFFECT THE VOTE? ** update - we all knew i was going to buy them both, right? and i SHOULD have known that as soon as i did, there would be a giveaway here on GR. good luck to you all! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/sh...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joan He

    this is how you do atmosphere <3

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    this looks like everything, truly Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch this looks like everything, truly Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch

  7. 5 out of 5

    lily ☁️

    “You can choose to keep silent. But if you do, would you be pleased with that decision in the years to come? Doing what is right, it is so utterly terrifying. And yet, so freeing.” Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Bloglovin’ “You can choose to keep silent. But if you do, would you be pleased with that decision in the years to come? Doing what is right, it is so utterly terrifying. And yet, so freeing.” Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Bloglovin’

  8. 5 out of 5

    June Hur

    I give this book five stars to celebrate the people behind the scenes: My agent, my editor, my friends and family, especially my sister who watched my newborn while I scribbled away, and my husband who supported me through the most stressful of deadlines. Thank you, thank you, thank you <3

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lady Amanda

    The atmosphere in this book is so impressive, I couldn't look away! Goodreads review to come, check it out early here. :) Here's a preview: Atmospheric, spooky, creepy, mysterious, complex, messy, tense This book was not what I normally read, but it was incredibly surprising to me. The atmosphere that June creates here is so impressive that I couldn’t stop reading, even though I’m a huge chicken and scare so easily. The Forest of Stolen Girls centers around the case of thirteen missing girls from H The atmosphere in this book is so impressive, I couldn't look away! Goodreads review to come, check it out early here. :) Here's a preview: Atmospheric, spooky, creepy, mysterious, complex, messy, tense This book was not what I normally read, but it was incredibly surprising to me. The atmosphere that June creates here is so impressive that I couldn’t stop reading, even though I’m a huge chicken and scare so easily. The Forest of Stolen Girls centers around the case of thirteen missing girls from Hwani’s hometown. Her father, the best investigator in the country, works on this case for years until one day he goes missing. Determined to find her father, Hwani returns to her hometown to discover that the town is holding more secrets than they let on. The first thing that stood out to me about this book was the way that June Hur builds the atmosphere. It is absolutely stunning. I was immediately sucked into the setting and the spooky feeling, without being too scared, in a good way! It was so atmospheric that I could hardly put it down, because I felt like I was in the town with them! I absolutely loved that feeling of eerie apprehension. I could really feel like I was with the characters, being concerned right along with them. Continue Reading... Bookish Brews | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Really cool story. I loved the 1490s Korean setting, and really a fascinating look at being an independent woman detective in a time when women had no status. Good mystery, and the relationship between the sisters was really moving.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    That feeling when one of your “most anticipated” 2021 reads lives up to the hype and then some 🥳 I loved June Hur's THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS and it was a pageturner! Thank you Fierce Reads and Macmillan for the e-ARC. (This is a long review so I tried to break it up into sections.) 🌿 THE PREMISE 🌿 1426, Joseon (Korea). Min Hwani returns to Jejudo to find her missing detective father and figure out what happened to 13 missing girls. In order to find her father and solve the case, Hwani must work w That feeling when one of your “most anticipated” 2021 reads lives up to the hype and then some 🥳 I loved June Hur's THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS and it was a pageturner! Thank you Fierce Reads and Macmillan for the e-ARC. (This is a long review so I tried to break it up into sections.) 🌿 THE PREMISE 🌿 1426, Joseon (Korea). Min Hwani returns to Jejudo to find her missing detective father and figure out what happened to 13 missing girls. In order to find her father and solve the case, Hwani must work with her estranged sister Maewol, a shamanic apprentice. 🌿 THE MYSTERY 🌿 This immersive YA historical mystery hooked me from the start. It tackles two mysteries nestled together in an era of history most readers know very little about. Hur executes this whodunit wonderfully, and I was loved the twists and turns we took to get to the bottom of things. 🌿 THE CHARACTERS 🌿 Both the main character Hwani and her sister Maewol are strong, independent female characters in a time that demanded female subservience and acquiescence. We also meet Gahee, Chaewon, and other female characters in this book who stand out in their behaviors. 🌿 THE HISTORICAL ELEMENTS 🌿 I don’t know a lot about Joseon history and perhaps other Korean readers will have more to say on this, but I thought Hur handled the difficult subject matter of tribute girls with age-appropriate references and respect. Nothing is explicit or sensationalized. We also learn about the sociopolitical divide between Jeju and mainland Korea throughout the book in natural and subtle ways (showing instead of telling). 🌿 THE ATMOSPHERE 🌿 The weather and the island feel like characters themselves, with the scent of rain-soaked earth and the feeling of mist permeating the air really providing a mind-body reading experience. I love a good atmospheric mystery so this added to the book. 🌿 MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS 🌿 • Be sure to read the author’s historical note and acknowledgments at the end. • Though Hur is Christian, I appreciate that her books aren’t focused on Korean Christianity. Out 4/20/21 in the U.S.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Devin

    -jaw drops- the cover tho :OOO

  13. 5 out of 5

    shri (sunandchai)

    As a few of you may know– and now all of you will–I will never pass up the opportunity to express my utmost adoration for June Hur’s writing. Her debut novel, The Silence of Bones, had an indescribable impact on me as a consumer of YA/NA novels and as a person. I’ll never forget the dual phenomenon of being paralyzed by emotion and feeling like I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough–an experience I find becoming rare in the high-volume, saturated category of Young Adult novels. The Forest of Stol As a few of you may know– and now all of you will–I will never pass up the opportunity to express my utmost adoration for June Hur’s writing. Her debut novel, The Silence of Bones, had an indescribable impact on me as a consumer of YA/NA novels and as a person. I’ll never forget the dual phenomenon of being paralyzed by emotion and feeling like I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough–an experience I find becoming rare in the high-volume, saturated category of Young Adult novels. The Forest of Stolen Girls was on my most anticipated releases of 2021. And no amount of self control could have stopped me from devouring it in one sitting, leaving me in a satisfied puddle of emotional numbness. Full review on my blog!

  14. 5 out of 5

    akacya ♡̷̷ˎˊ

    Hwani and her family left their hometown after she and her younger sister went missing and turned up in the forest near a gruesome crime scene. Years later, she returns to her hometown after her father goes missing while investigating the disappearance of thirteen girls. The plot is captivating. Once I picked this book up, I did not want to put it down. Besides the missing girls plot, there is also the subplot of Hwani and her sister, Maewol, reconnecting, which I thought was sweet. Although this Hwani and her family left their hometown after she and her younger sister went missing and turned up in the forest near a gruesome crime scene. Years later, she returns to her hometown after her father goes missing while investigating the disappearance of thirteen girls. The plot is captivating. Once I picked this book up, I did not want to put it down. Besides the missing girls plot, there is also the subplot of Hwani and her sister, Maewol, reconnecting, which I thought was sweet. Although this book is dark, it didn’t feel heavy to me. However, please check content warnings to make sure you’ll be okay with the content presented in this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This is Young Adult/ Historical Fiction/Crime-Mystery set in Korea in the 15th century. This was a solid 3 stars for me. It had a completely modern vibe to it. It almost felt like it could have happened yesterday if the Joseon dynasty was still a thing. The modern vibe seemed to work given the target audience. I liked the family relationships in this one. Two daughters felt an intense need to find their father and were willing to go to great lengths in their search. Most of the family units repr This is Young Adult/ Historical Fiction/Crime-Mystery set in Korea in the 15th century. This was a solid 3 stars for me. It had a completely modern vibe to it. It almost felt like it could have happened yesterday if the Joseon dynasty was still a thing. The modern vibe seemed to work given the target audience. I liked the family relationships in this one. Two daughters felt an intense need to find their father and were willing to go to great lengths in their search. Most of the family units represented in this story were motherless but the author showed well the lengths fathers will go for their daughters. These were detailed and believable. I also liked the setting but more detail would have been nice. A larger presence of the Joseon dynasty might have also countered the modern vibe more. So all in all, 3 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Saima

    4/5 stars. ✨ full review here ✨ I adored this novel so much. I love mystery novels, and rarely read any that are also historical fiction novels, so I was excited to read this. It was refreshing to read a mystery that wasn't set in the present, instead this novel is set in the 1400s in Joseon Korea, as out protagonist heads back to her hometown to uncover the mystery behind her missing father and missing 13 girls. Though the pacing is slow at first, it gives us time to acclimate to the setting and a 4/5 stars. ✨ full review here ✨ I adored this novel so much. I love mystery novels, and rarely read any that are also historical fiction novels, so I was excited to read this. It was refreshing to read a mystery that wasn't set in the present, instead this novel is set in the 1400s in Joseon Korea, as out protagonist heads back to her hometown to uncover the mystery behind her missing father and missing 13 girls. Though the pacing is slow at first, it gives us time to acclimate to the setting and atmosphere. It's creepy, especially when our character delve into the forest, and I loved that there are clues scattered throughout. I also love that the most prominent relationship was the sibling relationship between Hwani and Maewol! Overall it was a wonderful mystery.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shivani

    TWs: kidnapping, confinement, mentions of suicide, death of a loved one, disappearance of a loved one, poisoning, murder, violence, face mutilation This book follows Hwani, daughter to Detective Min who went missing when he returned to their former hometown to investigate the disappearance of thirteen girls. To search for her father Hwani travels back to her hometown where her estranged younger sister lives. To find her father, she must solve the mystery of where these girls are disappearing to a TWs: kidnapping, confinement, mentions of suicide, death of a loved one, disappearance of a loved one, poisoning, murder, violence, face mutilation This book follows Hwani, daughter to Detective Min who went missing when he returned to their former hometown to investigate the disappearance of thirteen girls. To search for her father Hwani travels back to her hometown where her estranged younger sister lives. To find her father, she must solve the mystery of where these girls are disappearing to and who’s behind these disappearances. I haven’t read a thriller in quite some time, but this book in particular really blew me away. The atmosphere of this book was palpable, I could feel it in my own bones: the fear rooted in the families who had lost their daughters and Hwani herself. Whenever Hwani ventured off into the forest by herself I found myself holding my breath hoping that she would make it out safely. The mystery itself wasn’t blatantly obvious and took me some time to piece together, but the clues that Hur left throughout the novel were subtle and well placed. One particular aspect I absolutely loved about this book was the sister relationship between Hwani and Maewol. I love reading books that discuss this complicated dynamic because I always see pieces of my sister and I in these relationships. It truly showed just how deep the bond between sisters go. The author also did a beautiful job writing about a historical event in such a manner that kept me as a reader engaged and eager to learn more about the historical inspirations of the book even when I had finished it. Books like these are so important for young adults to read so they can stay informed about other cultures and histories and to understand that Asian culture is much more multidimensional than the simplistic way it might be depicted in the American education system. Characters: 8/10 Atmosphere: 8/10 Writing Style: 8/10 Plot: 7/10 Intrigue: 7/10 Logic: 7/10 Enjoyment: 7/10 Rating: 7.4 or 4 stars

  18. 5 out of 5

    rain

    tw & cw // kidnapping, confinement, mentions of suicide, death of a loved one, disappearance of a loved one, poisoning, murder, violence, face mutilation this book has one of the most well-plotted mystery storylines i have ever read. june hur was able to scatter so many clues across this book's pages without compromising the big reveal at the end. im impressed by this because the trail of clues was actually difficult to piece together. i was working through this whole mystery with hwani and maewo tw & cw // kidnapping, confinement, mentions of suicide, death of a loved one, disappearance of a loved one, poisoning, murder, violence, face mutilation this book has one of the most well-plotted mystery storylines i have ever read. june hur was able to scatter so many clues across this book's pages without compromising the big reveal at the end. im impressed by this because the trail of clues was actually difficult to piece together. i was working through this whole mystery with hwani and maewol with bated breath because i also didn't know what to expect. aside from the compelling mystery, i like how this book confronts the corruption of people in power as well as the horrors experienced by girls during the ming dynasty. the forest of stolen girls manages to blend historical elements with interesting mystery, making it a noteworthy read. it also highlights family dynamics, with maewol and hwani's sibling relationship at its forefront. it was interesting to witness the development of their relationship in the midst of their father's disappearance, especially because they have become quite estranged after years of separation. their bond and contrasting personalities definitely gave this story more dimension. even though i enjoyed a lot of elements in this book, my attention kept wandering while i was reading it. i think this book is too long, although this could also be a me problem and not the book's fault entirely. i liked this book but it fell a few steps short from being a favorite. im sure i would have enjoyed this more if i read it via audiobook. however, i still recommend this book because the mystery was quite well-executed. it took me about 75% to figure out the twist and even then the big reveal still hit me hard. this book will make a good movie or drama. i just know it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Meg Eden

    CANNOT WAIT TO READ THIS!

  20. 5 out of 5

    mary ❀

    4 stars “The moment I chose to help you I realized something…Doing what is right, it is so utterly terrifying. And yet so freeing. A YA historical mystery that focuses on a relationship between two sisters and takes place in 1400s Joseon (Korea). I loved seeing the evolution of Hwani and Maewol’s relationship. Also the exploration of how someone who had genuinely loved you and treated you with care can so badly hurt someone else. Are they still the person you thought they were? The novel also foc 4 stars “The moment I chose to help you I realized something…Doing what is right, it is so utterly terrifying. And yet so freeing. A YA historical mystery that focuses on a relationship between two sisters and takes place in 1400s Joseon (Korea). I loved seeing the evolution of Hwani and Maewol’s relationship. Also the exploration of how someone who had genuinely loved you and treated you with care can so badly hurt someone else. Are they still the person you thought they were? The novel also focuses on the plight of women during this time period and a widespread feeling of helplessness.

  21. 5 out of 5

    belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo)

    actual rating: 4.5 stars rtc i love this setting, and june hur's a wonderful storyteller. actual rating: 4.5 stars rtc i love this setting, and june hur's a wonderful storyteller.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Urwa

    Loved the author's debut with Silence of Bones, excited for her sophomore novel set in Joseon era Korea. Loved the author's debut with Silence of Bones, excited for her sophomore novel set in Joseon era Korea.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stefani

    Really love the story much 😭😭😭 will review soon

  24. 4 out of 5

    Farhina ↯↯ The Wanderer Of Inked Adventures

    THE NEED IS UN EFFING REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Vee

    June Hur is an author to keep an eye on

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alyson Kent

    Thank you, Edelweiss, for the ARC! Recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    trishla ⚡ | YourLocalBookReader

    5 stars. tw // kidnapping, assault, poisoning, suicide, child trafficking "But there are two types of people, Those that retreat and huddle together like frightened birds, overwhelmed by the darkness of this kingdom, and those that grasp their freedom to struggle on the behalf of others, their eyes fixed on a great light that will always shine for those who seek it." I am not a historical fiction reader. But after reading this I think it's simply that I didn't read one that I've enjoyed before. T 5 stars. tw // kidnapping, assault, poisoning, suicide, child trafficking "But there are two types of people, Those that retreat and huddle together like frightened birds, overwhelmed by the darkness of this kingdom, and those that grasp their freedom to struggle on the behalf of others, their eyes fixed on a great light that will always shine for those who seek it." I am not a historical fiction reader. But after reading this I think it's simply that I didn't read one that I've enjoyed before. This story is one of the most enthralling books I've ever read. From the very beginning I was drawn in by this strong daughter that wanted nothing more than to find her father. But that mixed with the setting where girls (yes children) were being sent to the king as human tributes was another story all in itself. I think at the heart of it, this is a story about loss, grief and how to live afterwards. After the sisters have already lost their mother, they lead very different lives. One on the mainland with the affection of her father, a detective trying to fight corruption, and the other in the costal side, as a Shaman who only sees brief glimpse of the father. While a lot of physical land separates them, the emotional distance between them is far greater. After the disappearance of their father, all that changes. Their search brings them both closer together, and to the truth about his search for the missing girls and how it ties back to the crime scene they were found by as children. I think what I enjoyed most about this book is the agency that the author gives these two sisters (and by extension all the women in the book). While set in 1400's in a vassal state of Korea, there is much that women aren't able to do as shown when contrasted with the freedom that the "rural" costal areas allows them. Where there is hardship, there is fluidity. And while the author does convey period appropriate sexism and gender roles, it's never to the point where the sisters feel like helpless bystanders in the search. They are active participants and they GET SHIT DONE. I love them. Find me on: instagram

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Thank you Hear our Voices Tour and Netgalley for the ARC! I don't typically like thrillers, but I throughly enjoyed this book. It is a historical fiction, which is a genre I absolutely love. Even though you may not like historical fiction, it is a slow-building thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. The relationship between Hwani and younger sister Maewol to be amazing. The depiction of family within this book and the hardship that comes from estrangement and trauma is palpable. Thi Thank you Hear our Voices Tour and Netgalley for the ARC! I don't typically like thrillers, but I throughly enjoyed this book. It is a historical fiction, which is a genre I absolutely love. Even though you may not like historical fiction, it is a slow-building thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. The relationship between Hwani and younger sister Maewol to be amazing. The depiction of family within this book and the hardship that comes from estrangement and trauma is palpable. This is ultimately a story about an Asian family and I absolutely love that. I relate to some of the family dynamics. In the book, you can tell there was extensive historical research surrounding Korean history in the 1400s. When I was younger, it was hard for me to find historical fiction with main characters that have a similar cultural heritage. I am happy to see more representation of BIPOC identites within different genres of literature. I absolutely enjoyed reading this book and I hope to read more by this author in the future.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Riana (RianaInTheStacks)

    June Hur’s The Forest of Stolen Girls just came out last month and it was one my most anticipated reads of the year! I am also excited to have read it together with my friend Kat! Last year, I fell in love with June Hur’s debut book The Silence of Bones and have been so excited to read more from her. Like her first book, this one is a historical mystery set in Joseon (Korea). Though this time, instead of the 1800s, we step into 1426 Joseon. And in particular, we travel to the misty, forested Jej June Hur’s The Forest of Stolen Girls just came out last month and it was one my most anticipated reads of the year! I am also excited to have read it together with my friend Kat! Last year, I fell in love with June Hur’s debut book The Silence of Bones and have been so excited to read more from her. Like her first book, this one is a historical mystery set in Joseon (Korea). Though this time, instead of the 1800s, we step into 1426 Joseon. And in particular, we travel to the misty, forested Jeju Island where our main character Hwani grew up. Hwani hasn’t been back home in five years, not since the “forest Incident” occurred, when her and her younger sister went missing in the forest and when finally found, were in a state of unconsciousness close by a crime scene. After this, the girls’ father accepted a higher ranking detective job on the mainland and left with Hwani, leaving behind his younger daughter to apprentice with the village shaman. During this time, Hwani mostly looses touch with her younger sister and has no memories from the forest incident. But when her father turns up missing after returning to Jeju Island to investigate the recent disappearance of 13 girls, Hwani finds her way back home, looking for answers. It would seem that before her father went missing he had found some clues that point to the disappearances being linked to that day 5 years ago in the same forest. Now Hwani must once again face this forest and her past to hopefully find her father and the truth. Is her father still alive? Are his disappearance, the disappearance of the 13 girls, and the forest incident all connected? Why did her father go to investigate an area outside of his jurisdiction in the first place? One of my favorite parts of this book is the wonderfully mysterious ambiance created through the misty, secretive forests and the forgotten and hidden past of the characters. I had fun trying to piece together different possibilities of what might be going on. I was able to guess some general things, but other parts I didn’t guess at all! While I loved the writing in this one as much as in Hur’s first book, I do think I preferred the story and characters in the first a little more. At the same time, seeing the dynamic between the two sisters was interesting in this one. The Forest of Stolen Girls : 4/5 Stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    4 Stars Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own. This one took me a while to get through--definitely longer than I would have liked. Usually, this means that the book was boring/dull/otherwise difficult for me to slog through. But though this one took me time, it was definitely worth the investment on my end. Hur's worldbuilding is atmospheric: a chilling island shrouded in fogs and dotted with winding villa 4 Stars Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own. This one took me a while to get through--definitely longer than I would have liked. Usually, this means that the book was boring/dull/otherwise difficult for me to slog through. But though this one took me time, it was definitely worth the investment on my end. Hur's worldbuilding is atmospheric: a chilling island shrouded in fogs and dotted with winding villages. Historic suspense/mysteries are rare enough, and they are practically unheard of in YA. This book stands out for that alone, and the mystery itself is well-done. Tantalizing and chilling and a great dive into a piece of history I and many other readers are unfamiliar with. Though there were some foibles, this female-led detective story is worth the (long) read. Check out my full review, available at Gateway Reviews on June 11, 2021.

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