*I received an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Wednesday Books and St. Martin’s Press for your continued support!
Hush by Dylan Farrow follows the story of Shae, a 17-year-old girl living in the small and very poor village of Aster. Shae lives in near solitude, ostracized by her fellow villagers who believe she and her mother are cursed after her younger brother dies of a disease called the Blot. Her life is quickly changed after her mother is murdered with a dagger that is only used by the famous and powerful Bards. These Bards possess a gift called the Telling, which allows them to work acts of magic and control the population in the land of Montane. In search of the truth, Shae leaves for High House where she is invited by Lord Cathal, the leader of the Bards, to train as a Bard and learn how to do Tellings of her own.
Hush is a novel that I was really looking forward to after reading the blurb, however it wound up being a disappointing read. I often found that I had to force myself to continue reading and had no interest in finding out what was going to happen to the main character. The plot was predictable and often frustrating, with Shae making ridiculous decisions and trusting the sketchiest of people over the span of a few weeks. I also found it a little difficult to keep up with what was going on in the story. There are a lot of jumps and Shae is literally all over the place in short spaces of time.
Everything about the book’s world felt very high school cliché, even though many of the characters were adults. No matter where Shae went, everyone automatically seemed to hate her. And while she doesn’t do much to change their perspective, it doesn’t make sense to me that an entire world’s population would treat her like that if she has zero notoriety outside of her tiny village. She very much focuses on how the world is against her, rather than taking a moment to consider how her actions, and constant complaints, may impact others perspectives.
While she regularly acknowledges her rash decision making throughout the book, she continually rushes into more poor choices. Early on, she meets a handsome Bard named who, despite how rude and dismissive he is to her in their very limited interactions, she falls almost immediately in love with. Even though she has little proof of his innocence in her mother’s murder, she quickly decides to trust him and drags him into her investigation without getting to know him a little more first. She is also quick to trust other characters who SO clearly are using her without reason, but will dismiss others who act against her without questioning why they might have behaved that way. It’s possible her naivety was intentional, but when the book is advertised as a “powerful feminist fantasy”, Shae makes for quite a frustrating female lead.
While Hush was not for me, it’s perfect for readers who are fans of fast-paced adventures with love-at-first-sight romances similar to Twilight. While romance isn’t a huge factor in the first book of this series (it’s mostly just confused pining), it’s looking fairly obvious it will be in its’ sequels. Finally, for those who hate cliffhangers, there is one in this book, so consider yourself warned!