The Silence of Bones

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June Hur’s elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody YA historical mystery tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.

I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak;
Ears, but I mustn’t hear;
Eyes, but I mustn’t see.

1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.

As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.

But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.

THE SILENCE OF BONES released on April 21, 2020 (hardcover) and April 20, 2021 (paperback)


Praise for The Silence of Bones

American Booksellers Association (ABA) Indies Introduce Selection
Junior Library Guild Selection
A 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Award Finalist for Young Adult Fiction
A 2021 ALA Rise Selection
2020 Freeman Award Honorable Mention
A 2021 CCBC Amy Mathers Teen Book Award Finalist

This gripping drama is definitely one you’re not going to want to miss.” —Buzzfeed, “28 Highly Anticipated YA Books That Are Coming Out In 2020”

A total knockout.” —Popsugar, “The 25 Best YA Murder Mystery Books of All Time”

“At once haunting and evocative, June Hur’s The Silence of Bones is a gorgeous, tightly-woven debut. Prepare to delve deep into the lush and dangerous world of Korea in the 1800’s for a page-turner you won’t soon forget.” —Hafsah Faizal, New York Times-bestselling author of We Hunt the Flame

An emotionally gripping journeyThe Silence of Bones is a suspenseful, thrilling read, and readers will be swept away by Hur’s meticulous weaving of historical detail and the depth of her characters’ family ties.” —Elizabeth Lim, author of Spin the Dawn

“An intriguing tale that touches on class, honor, the value of one’s beliefs, and the lengths one is willing to go for loyalty and family. Hur presents such a vivid portrayal of the Joseon Era that it’s like stepping back in time. With its breathtaking prose and complex characters, this mystery novel is sure to keep you guessing until the very end!” —Kat Cho, author of Wicked Fox

“With exquisite prose and an astonishing eye for detail, June Hur’s The Silence of Bones will keep you up all night reading.” —Nafiza Azad, author of The Candle and the Flame

“This book is beautifully written, and moves at a brisk pace. … Engaging and dynamic. Hur’s first novel does an excellent job of exploring a topic that isn’t found widely in YA literature.” —School Library Journal

“The Korean concept of han, as well as customs, language, and politics, are woven flawlessly into the narrative … Seol’s determined pursuit of literacy and freedom, as well as the bittersweet ending, make for a memorable and worthwhile read.” —Publishers Weekly

“In this striking debut, Hur has crafted an intriguing historical mystery set in a time period often overlooked in YA … A compelling mystery for lovers of Victorian murder cases who are ready for an alternative to the London setting.” —Booklist

“An excellent historical mystery that asks big questions about family, religion, morality, and what it means to belong.” —Book Riot

“Read this book if you enjoy: supporting debut authors, Korean history, the 1800s, atmospheric reads, K-drama dramatics, books in which you start suspecting everyone.” —Goodreads

A fantastic debut from Hur, who writes a captivating story that keeps readers guessing and expertly explains the complex political climate … The female characters’ courage, ingenuity and warrior hearts are inspiring, and the story that reveals them is entrancing.” —The Canadian Children’s Book Centre

“I was struck by the depth of this gripping story. … The meditative quality of the narration of this historical mystery felt perfectly suited to the Korean setting and the backdrop of political and religious struggles. Seol’s courage, curiosity, and dedication make her a character I can’t get enough of.” —Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company

The Silence of Bones is a historic and richly atmospheric mystery that is utterly unique and difficult to put down! … Mesmerizing.” —Sarah True, Joseph-Beth Booksellers

“A well-written depiction of a part of history that we rarely see, led by a smart heroine who defies everyone’s expectations of her.” —Jackie Jou, Mysterious Galaxy Books

Had me gripped from the first page!” —Robyn Broderick, The Reading Bug

“I came out with tears in my eyes and a weight lifted off my soul. … The Silence of Bones not only brings something fresh to YA mysteries, but also transcends most adult mystery novels I’ve read … Stunningly visual.” —Sun and Chai

Author’s Note:

 THE SILENCE OF BONES is, in part, my love letter to Korean history. I was born in South Korea, but I was raised in Canada, and spent all of my teenage years obsessing over British history, Jane Austen and BBC dramas. In short, I grew up knowing almost nothing about Korean history, except for the brief stories my parents shared with me, and the snippets I learned about whenever I managed to stay awake during Korean history class (back when I studied in South Korea).

Then everything changed for me in 2015 when I, out of sheer curiosity, read further into Korean history – and fell madly in love with it. I was fascinated by everything and was gripped by a terrifying desperation to write a Korean historical mystery. I hesitated for a while, wondering if I, a Korean-Canadian ‘diasporan’, even had the right to write about Korea, and afraid that no one would be interested in a mystery set in a non-western country. It was the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement that finally gave me the courage to write.

At the very heart of this book is a more personal story inspired by my family, a family dispersed. I spent nearly half my life living with my siblings in Canada, far away from my parents, far away from my relatives. And so, while I was writing this book, I found myself wrestling with two questions that always haunted me: What will it cost to keep family together when things are falling apart and everyone is scattered? And where is home when you live far away from those who have loved you for all of your life?

Soon THE SILENCE OF BONES will be out in the world, no longer mine but belonging to the readers! I hope this book will introduce you to—or deepen your appreciation for—the complexity, depth and grandeur of Joseon Dynasty Korea. I especially hope that those who are homesick, like I was and still am, will feel less alone.

CONTENT WARNINGS: violence | murder | misogyny | mention and description of animal abuse | mention and description of suicide
Photo by Bosco Tung
Russian Edition | Молчание костей | Хёр Джун