I’ve been very slow in catching up with the ARCs I have. I know the goal is to post a review before the release date but… *gestures to the world wildly* So…yeah…
Thanks to Wednesday Books for a free digital copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and for sending me a physical copy! All opinions are my own.
Content warning: misogyny
Title: Hush (Hush #1)
Author: Dylan Farrow
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release date: October 6, 2020
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Length: 374 pages (U.S. hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “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.”
This was such an enjoyable read. I admit I had some trouble understand things in terms of world-building, but overall, really liked the book. The premise itself is really unique and while this is touted as a “feminist fantasy” I sometimes had a hard time seeing it because it didn’t seem as…forceful and obvious. The signs of feminism were subtle. You could tell as the story progressed that Shae has a lot of internalized misogyny and it doesn’t help that there aren’t many female Bards.
The main character, Shae, isn’t a physically strong character but she’s loyal albeit also a bit naive due to her past. There were times when I thought she got by and through things fairly easily (as in, not many obstacles in her way). It was interesting to see the world of the High House and the Bards through her eyes due to the general connotation of dislike and fear that surround them. The more I think about it the more the Bards and High House is like a cult, keeping the country in the grip of fear and dependent on their Tellings to survive.
Now in terms of the Tellings, I struggled to comprehend how they worked exactly and how Shae seemed to grasp doing them easily. Okay, maybe not that easily but it was really Ravod and Kennan, two other Bards, who threw me off as well as Cathal. You have three ambiguous characters here, not knowing whose telling (haha) the truth and you’re left in the same state of confusion as Shae. I wanted to know more about Shae and her embroidery (loved how it was used in this book) because I think there’s an untapped story there—maybe we’ll get it in book 2.
I’m really glad we were reunited with two characters as well. I won’t say who because it’s a spoiler, but I feel like they strengthen Shae in a way the Bards don’t and we spent a lot of time with them in the beginning of the book.
I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the sequel, that’s for sure.
Check out these other reviews:
- Jen at Levicorpvs Blog thought this was a decent debut fantasy.
- Karina at Daily Dose of Books wrote an in-depth review.
- Isabel at Little Paw Reads (LOOK AT THE DOGGO!!!) thought this was a disappointing read.