One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun, Jung Yewon (Translator)

One Hundred Shadows

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

So I bought my first book box recently, and it did not disappoint. This is one of two books that came in the Moth box, which focuses on books from independent press.

This is a fantasy book, set in the slums of Seoul. It follows the awkward new relationship of Eungyo and Mujae. The other plot line is that the shadows of the people in the slums were starting to rise. The people then had to try and resist the urge to follow the shadows or else it would somehow lead to their death.

I really liked this book. I have now read two books translated from Korean, and to be honest they were both pretty weird plot-wise. That doesn’t mean that they both weren’t really good!! Her writing in this novel is just beautiful, so atmospheric. The story really sets the scene for you: it feels sort of gloomy, but that isn’t a complaint.

Sorry guys this book is really hard for me to review. This book isn’t strictly plot based, but lots happen and you are trying to figure out exactly what is going on. But I wouldn’t say this is solely character driven either, there isn’t a huge character change or realization. It’s sort of a mixture of a little plot, a little character, and a lot of atmosphere. I know that pretty much sound like every book, but this is unlike anything I have read.

This book I think is something you need to read to understand what I am trying (and possible failing) to explain. The most interesting part for me was the shadows rising. They don’t give you a concrete answer as to why this is going on, so it requires quite a bit of interpretation. The way I saw it was that, the people whose shadows were rising seemed to be in a fairly bad place in their lives and pretty down. I saw the shadows rising representing depression; and the people trying to resist the urge to follow, I saw as someone resisting the urge to commit suicide. This is just my opinion and there are lots of room for many different views.

I would recommend this to everyone, just because I found it so different. I want to know others’ opinions, so please everyone go read it and let me know what you think.

Have you guys read other Korean literature? If so what has your experience been?

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18 thoughts on “One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun, Jung Yewon (Translator)”

  1. I’ve only read The Vegetarian, I have also read Exape From Cmp 14 but couldn’t finish it because it was too difficult to read about the difficulties they faced. (It’s based in North Korea) but this sounds like something I should add next. I do read a lot of their Manhwas. Its a lot of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read the vegetarian a little while ago too, I personally like this one better. The vegetarian was a little to weird for me. Escape from camp 14 might be something you need to be in the mood for. Also he came out a little while ago saying he lied about a few of the details, not that it should take away from what they go through up there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh he did? I wasn’t aware of that. Thanks for letting me know. I think there are a few other books that have come out similarly as well so maybe I’ll grab one of those instead of this.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve tried to read a couple of different manwhas, but the tone and atmosphere just never clicked with me.
    My wife reads a lot of fan-fic [original stories, not rip offs of movies/books] and she gets a lot of korean writers and will occasionally share. I completely understand what you mean about trying to synopsize this and not really being able to 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could see the tone not clicking. The two I have read so far they feel a little odd, and as I’m reading it I usually don’t know if I’m liking it or not until the end. I have never read any fan fiction, but I don’t know much about it to be honest, I thought it was all movie stuff, so that’s interesting to know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I call it “fan-fiction”, because I just don’t know what else to call it. Its Korean wannabe authors writing their own stories and publishing them on fan-translator sites to reach those who speak English. Amateur Hour, the International Version? 😀

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  3. Oh you liked this better than The Vegetarian? I have added to my TBR on GR. It sounds like this book box was a win. Funny, I also just recently purchased my first two book boxes to try out 😉 They have not arrived yet. I am very curious about the one I discovered, because it is used books!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ohhh really interesting book box. I’ve always wanted to try one in the future, but my fear that the book wouldn’t be of my taste (+ the shipping to high regarding Canada) made me stay clear of them. I might give one a shot during the summer. But man, this book sounds really interesting. Sounds so complex and filled with symbolism, I wouldn’t even mind giving it a shot! Is this the author’s first book?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I getting a bit more liberal with the idea of book boxes. There are books that I buy and don’t like, and since this is a small press, I’m pretty guaranteed to not have known of them. I’ll need to look it up, I think it might be their first translated work but not first novel.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds so intriguing- I don’t think I’ve tried anything Korean before- and I certainly haven’t tried anything that sounds as unique as this! I love the idea of the shadows- definitely want to check this out. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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