4/5 stars 

*I received an e-ARC of The Forest of Stolen Girls in exchange for an honest review. A Big thank you to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this book early!

I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, my eye was caught by the absolutely stunning cover while I was deciding on which ARC to read next. The Forest of Stolen Girls is a historical mystery written by June Hur and its contents definitely lived up to the gorgeous cover. I found myself staying up late just to find out what would happen next – which really tells you it’s a good book since I love bedtime and go to sleep at 9pm! 

Set in 1426, Joseon (Korea), The Forest of Stolen Girls follows the story of Hwani and Maewol, two sisters who disappeared in a forest when they were children and were found unconscious near a murdered woman. Years later, their father vanishes after travelling to Jeju to investigate the disappearances of thirteen other girls who went missing in the same forest. Hoping to find her father and solve the case of the missing girls, Hwani returns to her home village and is forced to choose between her quest for the truth, and wanting to adhere to societal gender roles she had been raised all her life to follow. 

I absolutely loved the setting and found it very unique and different from my normal reads.The description of the island villages and the forest (for me, especially the forest), made me feel like I was walking alongside Hwani, anxious about what might be lurking between the trees. Some sections can lag a little bit, but for the majority of the book, I was kept on my toes a majority of the entire time!

One big thing for me, and I hope I’m expressing this sentiment clearly and correctly, is that I appreciated that most of the Korean words used (romanized) were not Westernized or made easier in anticipation of readers who might not be familiar with the culture and vocabulary. Instead, the author used context and some description to guide the reader to understanding what the terms might be. 

The Forest of Stolen Girls comes out on April 20, 2021 and I highly recommend grabbing a copy once it’s out! You can pre-order it online or from your local bookstore.  

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