Book Review & Aesthetic: The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur

Happy Saturday, book friends! Hope you’re reading something lovely this morning with your coffee. This week has been a whirlwind for us full of unpacking, Big Work News, and exploring our new neighborhood. Scrappy, our dog, is absolutely loving it. This area has so much more grass for him to roam and he is having the time of his dog life exploring. Go ahead and grab a second cup of coffee and snuggle in to see my review of The Forest of Stolen Girls! ✨

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Title: The Forest of Stolen Girls
Author: June Hur
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: April 20, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary, Young Adult

At a glance: After her father vanishes while investigating the disappearance of 13 young girls, Hwani returns to her hometown to pick up the trail.

  • 💫 Atmospheric
  • 💀 Dark Content
  • 🌳 Family Focused
  • 🎢 Thriller

Read this if… you love atmospheric books, cold case books, and mysterious kidnapping books. If you want to read books set in Jeju, South Korea, or have read The Silence of Bones by June Hur and want to read her next book.

Diversity Representation: Korean cast, Korean author

Content Warnings: poisoning, suicide, assault, kidnapping, child trafficking, death of a loved one, confinement, murder, violence

Buddy read alert! I read this with Saima from Stories with Saima. Buddy reads are always the best part of reading, but I’m so glad we picked this book because we both loved it! Make sure to read her review!

book review
Book Review

Atmospheric, spooky, creepy, mysterious, complex, messy, tense

This book came onto my radar though a tweet by June Hur that touched me so much that I have to mention it here. Before I start, I want to share it with everyone please read it:

Last night I tearfully shared with my mom that sometimes I don’t feel Korean enough to write about Korea. I’ll never be able to write Korean historicals like a “real Korean.”

Then my mom told me:

When some diaspora Koreans speak in Korean, they speak with an accent.

And likewise, when we write about Korea, there will be an “accent” to our Storytelling. But she reminded me that accents are beautiful. Accents tell a story in itself. We bring in a new perspective

And she assured me in the end. I am Korean enough.

So right now, as I nervously watch more & more ppl pick up my sophomore novel, I tell myself that I’ve done my best. And I’m going to keep writing for myself & others in the West who yearn to learn more about Korea.

For those who want to read more about the process behind THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS here you go!

https://mailchi.mp/4b17745c3996/forestofstolengirls

Originally tweeted by June Hur (@WriterJuneHur) on April 21, 2021.

I instantly knew that June Hur was writing amazing books and I was definitely missing out. Luckily, The Forest of Stolen Girls came out that same week, and I was first in line at the library to snag the copy. This book was not what I normally read, but it was incredibly surprising to me. The atmosphere that June creates here is so impressive that I couldn’t stop reading, even though I’m a huge chicken and scare so easily.

Brief summary: The Forest of Stolen Girls centers around the case of thirteen missing girls from Hwani’s hometown. Her father, the best investigator in the country, works on this case for years until one day he goes missing. Determined to find her father, Hwani returns to her hometown to discover that the town is holding more secrets than they let on.

The first thing that stood out to me about this book was the way that June Hur builds the atmosphere. It is absolutely stunning. I was immediately sucked into the setting and the spooky feeling, without being too scared, in a good way! It was so atmospheric that I could hardly put it down, because I felt like I was in the town with them! I absolutely loved that feeling of eerie apprehension. I could really feel like I was with the characters, being concerned right along with them.

Another piece that stood out to me in this book was the relationships. I loved to see the relationship rekindle between Hwani and her sister. How the relationship grew throughout the story to rekindle that sisterly bond. The growth was absolutely wonderful. But what I loved most was the relationship each girl had with their missing father. It was really interesting to see how each sister had such a different relationship with their dad, even though they were raised together. The way that the characters realize the difference in parenting was so interesting and so real. I loved the way June Hur developed it.

The relationships really helped point out the inevitable failures that come with being a parent, even when you’re trying your best, but it didn’t fail to mention the successes too. It was difficult to read, but it was so realistic with all of the characters motives. It all made sense how the relationships could be different, and you could see that the father was trying. It was a really wonderful development. It grapples with realizing your father is not who you thought he was, and reconciling with that. And it also doesn’t paint the father as a villain. It just shows that parenthood is complex and difficult. It really did such a great job with these intricacies, I was quite surprised. It’s not often I see this balance in books!

Summing it all up

The Forest of Stolen Girls is deeply atmospheric and pulls you in right from the beginning. I loved the way that I truly felt a part of the town. However my favorite part of this book was the relationships between Hwani and her family. Each relationship is different, and it was beautiful.

aesthetics photo

Forest of Stolen Girls has this epic, beautiful, and creepy vibe. I thought that the best way to capture all three of those was to do foreboding pictures of Jeju and nature. Please enjoy this book aesthetic / mood board!

About the author

June Hur was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except for the time when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. She began writing her debut novel after obsessing over books about Joseon Korea. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop. She is the author of The Silence of Bones, The Forest of Stolen Girls, and The Red Palace, published by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, and she currently lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.


Have you read any of June Hur’s books? Do you plan on picking this one up?

Are you a fan of atmospheric thrillers?

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Looking for more diverse reads?

Check out the rest of my blog! I’m dedicated to sharing books with you that include diversity, so feel comfortable that any books on Bookish Brews will include some diversity.

If you liked this review, or thought you might like this book, check out some of my other reviews for books with similar dark, creepy, atmospheric moods:


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The Forest of Stolen Girls sounds creepy but really great! I’m definitely convinced to read it now!