Series: Hush #1
They use magic to silence the world. Who will break the hush?
Seventeen-year-old Shae has led a seemingly quiet life, joking with her best friend Fiona, and chatting with Mads, the neighborhood boy who always knows how to make her smile. All while secretly keeping her fears at bay… Of the disease that took her brother’s life. Of how her dreams seem to bleed into reality around her. Of a group of justice seekers called the Bards who claim to use the magic of Telling to keep her community safe.
When her mother is murdered, she can no longer pretend.
Not knowing who to trust, Shae journeys to unlock the truth, instead finding a new enemy keen to destroy her, a brooding boy with dark secrets, and an untold power she never thought possible.
Hush by Dylan Farrow is a very standard YA fantasy where the protagonist learns that she has special powers and that she is living in a dystopian society where the people in power lie to stay that way. It also includes the usual love triangle with the boy next door and the aloof, mysterious magic worker. I feel like I’ve read this book a dozen times already, so I admit I was not very impressed.
Reviewing Hush proves rather difficult precisely because it is so unmemorable. Perhaps if Farrow had given readers a unique protagonist in Shae, the book would feel a little more original. However, as it is, Shae has little to no personality, functioning mainly as an empty vessel who can illustrate the point that sometimes people speak the truth and no one listens. Farrow is very open about the fact that this dystopian society is meant to reflect the experience of survivors of sexual abuse, whose stories are not believed. This is an admirable effort, though the messaging of the book sometimes threatens to overshadow the story.
The plot itself is equally bland, following the usual trajectory as Shae leaves her village to discover the truth about her world and finds herself embroiled in politics she is little equipped to handle. Along the way, she also learns that she possesses magic–magic stronger than what most other people possess–and she starts to fall for a mysterious Bard who insists he is not attracted to Shae, but whose actions seem to say differently. At this point, the novel almost seems to be following some sort of dystopian fantasy YA template.
Hush may be appreciated more by readers who missed the dystopian boom after The Hunger Games was published, and so may think that this book reads as more original than it is. For my part, however, Hush proves a lackluster read. I have no plans to read the sequel.