ARC Review: The Red Palace

Title: The Red Palace
Author: June Hur
Publication date: 25th January 2022
Age-range/genre: Young Adult / Historical Fiction, Mystery
Trigger warnings: murder, violence, referenced death of a parent, misogyny, sexism, referenced beheading
Rating: 5/5 stars
Summary: [from goodreads]

Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, eighteen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father’s approval.

But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon’s closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher’s innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation.

In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

recommended for: fans of historical fiction, clever mysteries, and a slow-burn romance.

The Red Palace is June Hur’s third novel, and is an expertly woven mystery that incites both fear and excitement in the reader. Hur has outdone herself in this novel, creating a fantastic mystery that had me engaged the entire time.


thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


I was determined to be heard, to have my thoughts considered.

overall thoughts

The Red Palace is the second novel by June Hur that I’ve read, and I was blown out of the water by how much I enjoyed it. It was my first 5 star rated book I read this year, and I’m so utterly pleased with the entire book. 

The story focuses on Hyeon, a palace nurse who becomes involved with a murder investigation after she believes that her mentor has been wrongly accused of the crime. Despite the fact she is not an expert in solving crimes, her medical knowledge and tenacity comes in handy, and she has some help in an officer, Eojin.

I had stepped into a world that seemed to be hiding terrible secrets from me.


As always, Hur is able to create such a vivid picture of the setting, this time 1750s Joseu, alongside creating some incredibly compelling characters. You can clearly tell that Hur did historical research in writing this novel – seen not only in the setting and the portrayal of characters, but also the impact of the monarchy, and the classism and misogyny.

The novel delves into the status of women in this setting, especially those who have been “born out of wedlock”. Our protagonist Hyeon always feels like she has to prove herself, that she can’t make any mistakes, due to her status. While this could result in her keeping to herself to keep the peace, it is her status in society (as well as her job as a nurse) has made her incredibly compassionate towards others in need who may be overlooked. 

I could never call myself a nurse again, not in good conscience. If I turned my eyes away from such injustice.

protagonists and characterisation

Moreover, it’s due to the rumours of the prince’s involvement that much of the police would rather use a scapegoat instead of finding the truth of what happened to these victims. Despite the danger she’ll be putting herself in by pursuing the case, she cares more about finding justice for the victims as well as saving her mentor who is being used as a scapegoat.

I instantly adored Hyeon, due to her attentiveness and her strong moral compass. She was stubborn and smart and made for a great protagonist in a mystery novel. She and Eojin made for a great detective duo, and I immensely enjoyed them trying to find clues and uncover the truth together. 

“[…] when I am with you… I never feel the need to be someone I am not.”

slowburn romance

Hyeon and Eojin were both very empathetic characters, as they both were eager to find the truth. I loved reading their interactions and exploring their dynamic. I usually am not a fan of romance in mystery novels, because I feel it often takes away from the main plot and I want to focus on unravelling the mystery, but I absolutely adored reading the romance here. Perhaps it’s because they were both incredibly invested in the case, so their relationship naturally blossomed the more time they spent together following leads. It was genuinely so sweet and so wholesome.


I felt awake for the first time in years.

Without giving details away, I will say I was very pleased with the plot and story of this mystery. The pacing was excellent in keeping my interest, and I was so intrigued and curious about finding out the real perpetrator and answers to all the questions I had. It really kept me on my toes and gave me a wonderful conclusion at the end.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel so much, and is one I would definitely be recommending to others.


Links for The Red Palace:

Thank you for reading!
Have you read The Red Palace? Let me know your thoughts!

15 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Red Palace

  1. i read june hur’s the silence of bones recently and loved it, and i’m so excited to pick this up as well! lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! This truly was such a fabulous book – June Hur’s writing is just so beautiful and enchanting and I loved how it set up the background as well! The romance had my heart too and I just loved it so so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ahhhh i’m so glad to hear you loved this one so much!! i’m so excited to pick it up (especially since historical fiction with court/palace settings are something i always adore) and maybe also the other novels by the author! amazing review!! ❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

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