Book Reviews

Hush by Dylan Farrow: ARC Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Hush by Dylan Farrow

Expected publication October 6th, 2020 by Wednesday Books.

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

How do you speak up in a world where propaganda is a twisted form of magic?

In the land of Montane, language is literal magic to the select few who possess the gift of Telling. This power is reserved for the Bards, and, as everyone knows, the Bards have almost always been men.

Seventeen-year-old Shae has lived her entire life in awe of the Bards—and afraid of the Blot, a deadly disease spread by ink, which took the life of her younger brother five years ago. Ever since, Shae fears she’s cursed. But when tragedy strikes again, and her mother is found murdered with a golden dagger—a weapon used only by the Bards—Shae is forced to act.

With a heart set on justice, Shae journeys to High House in search of answers. But when the kind, fatherly Cathal, the High Lord of Montane, makes Shae an undeniable offer to stay and train as a Bard, Shae can’t refuse.

Through this twisty tale, Shae endures backbreaking training by a ruthless female Bard, tentative and highly-forbidden feelings for a male Bard with a dark past, and a castle filled with dangerous illusions bent on keeping its secrets buried.

But sometimes, the truth is closer than we think. We just have to learn to listen.

A stunning and timely debut from activist Dylan Farrow, HUSH is a powerful feminist fantasy full of surprising insights, that casts a ray of light into the shadows of a society based on silencing and lies.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

“But that’s the thing about words. Once you’ve said them, there’s no going back.”

Hush, a YA dystopian fantasy novel, tells the story of Shae, a 17-year-old girl who lives along with her mother in a small farmhouse outside a poor village. The village itself on the skirts of a barren, wasteland where ink and all forms of reading and writing have been banned due to the ill fate, aptly titled the “Indigo Death,” or more commonly, simply the “Blot,” that befalls anyone who participates in such activities.

In a world where any form of documentation is prohibited, collective consciousness rules. But because of the constant fear surrounding everyone’s existence – worried that even one small thought or misplaced comment will cause illness to befall them – what is considered “the truth” is often a warped view on reality. And with no documentation to prove as much, people’s opinions are easily swayed.

Shae finds herself at the crux of this conundrum when her mother is murdered in the middle of the night, with the evidence pointing to the killer being a Bard, the magical peacekeepers of the land. Despite her urges for justice to be served, the authorities of her village are convinced the murder was merely a tragic accident; all evidence suggestive of fowl-play gone suspiciously missing.

So Shae sets out to uncover the real truth, once and for all, and in the process stumbles upon even greater conspiracies at play.

Overall, I found the world-building of the grim land of Montane, and the lore behind the mysterious art of Telling, creatively unique and interesting. Given that Shae, the main character, has spent her whole life up until the start of the novel sheltered from the outside world, the reader gets to learn of these harsh realities alongside her; making Shae’s heartbreak at finding out all the glorious things she had been promised all her life were nothing but delusional lies a visceral sensation.

Outside of this however, I found that most of the characters held little interest for me, with the main character herself quite dull and gullible, which didn’t endear me to her very much. Farrow manages to create a truly intriguing dystopian fantasy world, but she litters it with so many unlikeable characters that it becomes hard to know who to root for.

Nevertheless, with a vision as strong as this one, especially for a debut novel, I can’t help but be intrigued to see where the story goes from here.

What do you look for in a fantasy novel?

Which matters more to you: likable characters or creative lore?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.


Leave a Reply

Discover more from Literary Liza

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading