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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim

Juhea Kim's looping story of Korea, courtesans, pickpockets, and the powerful figures complicating and shaping all of their lives involves love triangles, superstition, heartbreak, and a complicated, shifting interconnectedness that spans decades.

In a snowy forest in 1917 Korea, an unlikely moment of kindness shared by a Korean hunter toward a Japanese officer creates a connection that binds the fates of the two men forever.

Meanwhile Jade, a young girl who has been sold to a courtesan, befriends JungHo, a young orphan boy in Seoul.

JungHo grows older and becomes involved in the fight for independence, while Jade finds an unlikely romantic interest.

Beasts of a Little Land tracks Jade's schooling, found family, artistic expression, and her social position as a courtesan within the culture, while following JungHo as he sets sights on more than pickpocketing and scrambling to find enough to eat one day at a time.

Conflicts between Korea and Japan and war and occupation swirl around them and those within their orbits--Jade's adoptive family members Lotus, Luna, Dani, and Silver; JungHo's childhood clan all grown up; each of their loves; and the wealthy and influential men pulling strings on all sides.

In Beasts of a Little Land, Juhea Kim explores friendship, enemies, trust, possibility, heroes, and beasts of all kinds. The story is looping and cyclical, with interconnected webs of interaction, power, and love. Some of what various characters cling to in hopes of saving themselves or securing their futures ends up being their undoing.

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Beasts of a Little Land is Juhea Kim's debut work.

Kim is donating a portion of the proceeds of the book to the Phoenix Fund, a conservation nonprofit working to protect the Siberian tiger and the Amur leopard.

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