4 out of 4 stars
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The Vanished by Pejay Bradley is a historical fiction novel set in early 20th century Korea. It was a time when they were occupied by Imperial Japan.
In the first scene, King Gojong celebrated his birthday dinner with his immediate relatives at the Duksoo Palace. Prince Ansoon, the king's cousin, his daughter, Lady Sougyon, and his son, Dahl were among the guests. The dinner was a dismal affair because the loss of their national sovereignty to a foreign nation was in everyone's minds.
This story is told mostly from the point of view of Lady Sougyon. She dedicated most of her life to her son, Embon. Embon is handsome and very intelligent that he got accepted at Hokkaido Imperial University in Japan. During his stay at the university, he became friends with some radical students who wanted to help liberate Korea.
This is mostly about the life and suffering of the Korean people during the occupation of Japan. The story was an eye-opener for me. I learned a lot about the culture and history of Korea. For instance, I wasn't aware that they had a royal family and social castes.
I was also surprised that slavery was widespread and how poor the country was. Many of the slaves had no names, just "the wife of" or "the mother of"; and sometimes derogatory terms like "dog's poo." There was a big difference in the way of life of the rich people from the poor. I am amazed because, comparing to what Korea is now, they really have come a long way since then.
I liked reading about history, and this is why I appreciate this book so much. I didn't find any grammatical or typographical errors. The author, Pejay Bradley was born and raised in Korea before migrating to the US, which gives credence to the story. If I had to choose anything I didn't like, it would be the character of Embon. I found him to be weak. His mother and other people secretly believed that he would "achieve nothing" and "become a nobody" because he was born in the Year of the Rat. I would have liked that he proved them all wrong. If there is a second book, I hope that his character develops more. However, this didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book, so I rate this 4 out of 4 stars.
I recommend this to readers of historical fiction novels, but caution those who are sensitive to some violence. This is appropriate for younger readers, as there is no profanity or sexual content.
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