This one is a little out of the beaten path for me: it’s a mystery, but set in a historical place and period I know nothing about, set in Joseon, Korea, in the 1800s. I found the setting and role of the main character pretty fascinating: Seol is a damo, a female indentured assistant to the police, who can handle female corpses and search women’s rooms with propriety, giving them information to assist their cases. Seol is a curious girl, with a secret mission of her own to seek out her older brother, who long ago left for the city.
There are some turns of the story that I found very predictable, which I shouldn’t say anything at all about for fear of immediately spoiling the mystery for someone! I didn’t notice the person I should be suspecting, though, so the central mystery did hold up. There are some quite graphic descriptions of violence, gore, torture and dead bodies, but all described in a rather matter-of-fact way, so it didn’t make me too squeamish.
I thought I hadn’t really got attached to the characters, finding Seol a bit annoying in her impulsiveness and inability to think things through all the way to the end, but the ending did actually come through for me. I think the setting was probably the thing that interested me most going in, and that held up for sure: I’d be interested to read more about it, non-fiction in particular!
I’m finding it a bit difficult to settle on a rating, as I don’t feel very passionate about it one way or another: it was enjoyable and made me curious, but not something I couldn’t put down.