Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

The Red Palace by June Hur

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In this book, Nurse Hyeon has dedicated her whole life to working hard, and it has finally paid off. She is now a palace nurse, a title carrying so much prestige that her father will have to acknowledge her now! However, one night, tragedy strikes. Hyeon witnesses a terrifying massacre and her mentor, the woman who has been more of a mother to her than her real mother ever has, is accused of being the culprit. Convinced that her mentor could never kill, she teams up with a young and well-regarded inspector to prove her mentor’s innocence. As she becomes more and more wrapped up in the mystery, she gets tangled up in a web of royal spy networks and realizes that she may have some connection to the crime-and that the culprit might be targeting her next.

I loved the main character. She was fully developed, multi-dimensional, and struggled with her identity, her family, her values, and her safety. She knew exactly what she wanted and was not going to allow anything to stand in her way, not even a terrifying mass murderer. While I thought the premise of the novel was very fascinating and complex and I loved the historical mystery aspect with ties to true events, I did think the plot was kind of slow and it did bore me at times. There were definitely times when I thought that Hyeon’s inner monologue’s were repetitive and I kept thinking that she was emphasizing certain parts of her life way too often. Additionally, the plot twists were unsurprising and boring. It seemed like the majority of the book was either Hyeon complaining about everything that she had already complained about or it was Hyeon arguing with each one of the characters about her involvement in the case. That being said, the ending definitely made up for the lack in plot progression. Everything tied to the end nicely and it was an appropriately intense scene with the culprit at the end. Finally, the end was nice in the sense that it actually made sense to the readers who were paying attention to the mystery. It wasn’t like usual mystery books, where at the end, the author seems to remember that it’s a mystery and just invents a character to throw in at the very end and call them the killer. This book did a nice job making the killer a character who actually made sense considering the rest of the novel. The end didn’t drag out dramatically like most books where the author takes forever tying up all the loose ends. I liked how the book just ended without the extensive conclusion.

I definitely will remember how much I loved the ending. It was because of the intensity and then the very quick close that I actually ended up liking the book. Otherwise, I would’ve walked away thinking that I had just wasted my time. Therefore, I will try to learn from how well-done the resolution was and keep it in mind.

Reviewed by Caitlin, Glen Allen Library

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