Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur

Cover Art

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur
Macmillan / Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
ISBN: 978-1250229588 

Five years ago, Hwani and her sister Maewol got lost in the forest and were later found unconscious, just a few paces away from the apparent suicide of a young woman. Then Hwani’s father, Detective Min, disappears in the same area, and Hwani returns to the hometown they left after the incident, following cryptic clues in her father’s journal that seem to connect the Forest Incident–as it came to be called–with the recent disappearance of thirteen girls.  As she reconnects with her estranged sister and doggedly follows in the footsteps of her father’s investigation, lost memories begin to bubble to the surface — memories that someone else would like to see buried forever. 

Set against the backdrop of fifteenth-century Korea — or Joseon, as it was known then — this tightly plotted historical mystery will please fans of both genres. Hur’s sophomore novel reflects the same research and attention to historical detail that shaped The Silence of Bones. Hwani’s struggles to renew a lost relationship with her sister, and her slow discovery of her father as a flawed but real human, will connect her to modern audiences, while the suspenseful, menacing tone Hur creates as Hwani gets closer to discovering the truth about the missing girls will keep them turning pages all the way to the satisfying conclusion. 

Those who love well-researched historical fiction with darker themes such as Ruta Sepetys’ Out of the Easy or Elizabeth Wein’s Verity series, will appreciate Hur’s attention to detail. Give to fans of Sherri L. Smith’s The Blossom and the Firefly or Stacy Lee’s Downstairs Girl looking for other well developed Asian characters.

Heather Christensen

Other Nominated Titles

  • A Complicated Love Story Set in Space by Shaun David Hutchinson (January 19, 2021)
  • XOXO by Axie Oh (April 20, 2021)
  • Like Home by Louisa Onomé (February 23, 2021)
  • Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks (November 10, 2020)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.