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The Forest of Stolen Girls
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2021
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Publishers Weekly Review
In 1462 Joseon Korea, Min Hwani, 18, returns to her hometown on Jeju Island to find the renowned detective Min Jewoo--her missing father, who disappeared a year ago after going to investigate the case of "13 girls missing in the past four years." Five years prior to the start of the novel, Hwani and her sister Maewol, three years younger, were tangentially involved in the Forest Incident, located unconscious "near the scene of the crime," a forest where a young woman's body was also found. Left behind on Jeju to be raised by Shaman Nokyung after experiencing the shamanic calling, Maewol is now estranged from Hwani, who moved to the mainland with their father. But when the sisters realize that a man in a white mask is the common factor between past and present crimes, they join forces to solve the case. Crafting a suspenseful, atmospheric historical mystery, Hur (The Silence of Bones) explores women's lack of bodily agency during this time and the dangers of obsessive protection, adroitly interweaving the historical context of the real horrors that afflicted Korean women from the 13th-century Mongol rule until after 1435. Ages 14--up. Agent: Amy Elizabeth Bishop, DG&B. (Apr.)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 6 Up--A historical mystery that takes readers on a breathtaking journey through 1400s Korea. Min Hwani's father, the venerable Detective Min, has been missing for a year and is presumed dead. Desperate for answers and betrothed to be married soon, 18-year-old Hwani flees the peninsula and secretly returns to her hometown on the island of Jeju. Reconnecting with her sister, Maewol, the pair work to mend their relationship as they search for their father and 13 missing girls--the case he was investigating when he vanished. The sisters must discover what has become of the most beautiful girls in the village, and how everything connects to "the Forest Incident" in their past. Hur's worldbuilding is majestic, transporting readers to Joseon Korea to unravel a compelling mystery. The characters are multidimensional and well drawn; in particular, the dynamic between the sisters as they adjust to society's expectations sings. The mystery complements the setting perfectly, and the conclusion is well-plotted and satisfying. Fans of historical and mystery YA alike will find much to enjoy in Hur's atmospheric offering. VERDICT A story of identity, belonging, and family, readers will thrill at this mystery set in 1400s Korea. A must for all collections.--Elissa Bongiorno, Washington, DC
Booklist Review
In fifteenth-century Joseon (Korea), Hwani returns to her hometown on the island of Jeju, where we learn the horrific details of her past there: an ever-growing list of missing or murdered girls, convicts on the loose, and, most agonizing, the disappearance of her father, a famed detective, into the forest there. Armed with his battered journal and disguised as a male scholar, Hwani, along with her estranged sister, enters the forbidden forest she promised to avoid for the rest of her life, investigating their father's whereabouts, reliving their childhood trauma, and unraveling dangerous truths that may threaten their relationship with him, the local villagers, and each other. As the two sisters seek healing and closure, they must rush to solve the case before becoming ghosts themselves. With a riveting plot and relatable characters, Hur's sophomore novel is a revelation, bringing to light serious historical events, such as the deaths and trafficking of kongnyŏs, beautiful young Korean girls used as political tribute. An unsettling, unforgettable historical mystery that never lets up until its final sentence--and even then leaves the reader much to ponder.
Summary

Suspenseful and richly atmospheric, June Hur's The Forest of Stolen Girls is a haunting historical mystery sure to keep readers guessing until the last page.

1426, Joseon (Korea). 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.

Years later, Detective Min--Hwani's father--learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared from the same forest that nearly stole his daughters. He travels to their hometown on the island of Jeju 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 collides with her now estranged sister, Maewol--Hwani comes to realize that the answer could lie within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago.

Praise for The Forest of Stolen Girls :

A Junior Library Guild Selection
A 2022 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominee
A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection
A 2022 White Pine Award Nominee
A 2022 ALA Rise Selection
A 2022 CCBC Choices Selection

" The Forest of Stolen Girls is a haunting, breathtaking tale that will have readers on the edge of their seats. ... Hur is an absolute master of mystery , and I will be reading her gorgeous books for years to come." --Adalyn Grace, New York Times -bestselling author of All the Stars and Teeth

" Rich, exquisite, and deeply atmospheric , The Forest of Stolen Girls draws the reader in from the very first page and doesn't let go. A dark and utterly engrossing mystery , beautifully drawn from start to finish." --Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times -bestselling author of Girl in Pieces

" Haunting and lyrical . Beware, this tale will draw you deeper into the forest than you want to go." --Stacey Lee, award-winning author of The Downstairs Girl

"A brilliant historical fiction mystery that is suspenseful, gorgeous and absolutely riveting ! Hur brings Jeju Island during the early Joseon period completely to life in a rich, evocative manner that reminds me of watching my favorite historical Kdrama." --Ellen Oh, author of the Prophecy series

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