Category Archives: Historical Fantasy

The Red Palace by June Hur

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

I am a big fan of Korean dramas in general and saiguk, or costumed period dramas in particular. I also love fiction books set in cultures other than European Middle ages. So this book was right up my alley.

I lived the rich world the author describes here, and as I watched a lot of period dramas, I could picture all the costumes and locations with perfect clarity, which only added to my delight with this book.

It doesn’t hurt that the protagonist is very likeable as well. She is honest and good-hearted, but also full of flaws and insecurities. Life was hard for women in Joseon Korea, especially illegitimate daughters of noblemen who barely acknowledge them. I loved Hyeon’s determination to make a life for herself and how hard she works to achieve it.

Granted, at first her motivation is misguided – she wants to prove to her father that she is someone worth loving. Frankly, if her father doesn’t love her now, nothing will change that. And he even proves my point by recklessly wreaking her life in the middle of the book, just because she wouldn’t obey him.

I was glad to see Hyeon’s journey in this book. Her coming into her own strength and finally discovering what she wants to do with her life. What makes her happy. Her finally stopping to chase for her father’s approval.

I also loved the low key love story developing between her and Robin. Their collaboration that evolved into mutual respect and trust, then affection. I even liked that the ending isn’t a typical “and they got married and lived happily ever after”. There is a lot more to Hyeon than just settling into the role of a housewife.

If I have one complaint it’s that the intrigue itself felt a bit simplistic. I guessed the plot twists before we arrived to them. But that definitely didn’t take away from my enjoyment.

This is a fast and delightful read, and I would definitely recommend it.

PS: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.