Today’s review is on The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur.
Ever since I picked up The Perfect Nanny, I have been wanting to pick up more mystery thrillers. I can’t remember where I first heard of The Forest of Stolen Girls, probably on YouTube, but I am so glad I did because I really enjoyed it! And I can’t wait to get a chance to read June Hur’s other book – the Silence of Bones.
The Forest of Stolen Girls is a historical mystery set in 15th century South Korea, when it was a vassal state of the Ming dynasty. On the island of Jenju there is a forest where 13 girls have gone missing, never to be seen again. Detective Min, who’s daughters were found unconscious in the same forest several years before close to a gruesome crime scene, tries to investigate it, but he too ends up disappearing without a trace. A year later, his oldest daughter, Hwani, sets out to find her father, who she believes to be alive, as well as what is truly happening to the girls who are disappearing in the forest.
I was gripped from the very first page and I loved it. I read it in a day and it was almost unputdownable. I loved being transported to 15th century South Korea, and learning more about an area of history that is unknown to me. I knew that, like most places around the world at that time, it was hard being a woman. However, I had no idea about the “tribute” system in which the Ming emperor would forcibly take young women from their families and make them concubines. As a result most young women were kept hidden away by their families so that they would not be taken away. And of course, there is corruption involved in this system and bribes can be made to keep one’s daughter safe, as long as a replacement is given.
The corruption involved in this system, which is essentially a form of human trafficking, is ultimately what fuels the disappearance of the girls.
I found myself hooked as Hwani uncovers and peels back different layers of her father’s disappearance and the 13 girls Again, it is absolutely fascinating to learn more about a piece of history and culture that I didn’t know about.
The description of the scenery are also fantastic, I felt transported to the island and I felt like I was seeing it and experiencing everything for myself.
I also really liked the mystery and how it was solved. I also appreciate that it was linked to something that happened in history – the tribute girls.
Overall, I really enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to read more of June Hur’s work in the future! 4/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.