Beasts of a Little Land
Expansive historic fiction set during the nearly half century long struggle for Korean independence. From courtesan chambers to the streets of Seoul ripe for change to war impoverished homes, Kim’s debut is a sweeping tale of love, desperation, longing, and expectation.
There is a depth to this narrative. Following a full cast of meaningful characters, Korea is the standout, main character. It’s evolution from struggling to thriving to impoverished to hopeful is well developed and evocative.
The meaningful cast of characters is developed around the Korean ideology of Inyeon, the belief that all human encounters and relationships are destined, creating ongoing ties to one another. That thread of connection is adeptly executed within each association in this novel from beginning to end, none going to waste or superfluous.
I particularly enjoyed watching Jade, the primary character, as she blossomed throughout this novel. Her gender and societal station put her at a disadvantage, but she never let that hold her back. Harnassing inner determination and resolve, Jade continually found a way to push past boundaries, fighting for happiness, survival, love, and purpose.
This book is exceptionally executed in all literary respects. It’s certainly hard to believe it is a debut. I will be on the lookout for whatever Kim does next.
In reading this novel, I partnered the text and audio, which worked incredibly well. The text allowed me to more easily keep track of the characters, while the audio created a depth, hearing proper pronunciations and character voices. If possible, I highly recommend combining modalities for this novel.
Thank you Juhea Kim, Ecco Books, LibroFM, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of this book.