Review: Hush

Hush by Dylan Farrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dylan Farrow's debut novel is a YA fantasy that seems almost therapeutic in its exploration of the culture of silence in the face of uncomfortable truths, the bravery required to speak the truth, and the high price that can be paid for speaking that truth.

A seventeen-year-old girl, Shae, has her world torn apart, first by a mysterious disease called The Blot, which is linked to reading and writing, which claims her beloved brother's life, and then by the stunning murder of her mother. When the story of her mother's death is steadily revised by those in power, and even by her own friends, Shae begins to feel unmoored and uncertain of what she thinks she saw. But why would everyone be lying? Why would what was obviously a murder, be called an accidental death? Why does speaking her truth get her shunned? In searching for answers she seeks out the Bards, a justice-seeking group who protect communities by offering Tellings, magical stories that shield villages against blight, drought, and death. Only... do they? When Shae joins the Bards as a mage in training she finds that nothing and no one in her life are what they seemed to be.

For anyone who has followed the bitter saga between Mia and Dylan Farrow and director Woody Allen, the themes expressed in this novel- especially grooming (albeit non-sexual in this novel) a young person in order to use and abuse them- are painfully elucidated. I wanted to read and review Farrow's novel largely to support her. While some aspects of the novel are based in very commonly seen tropes (with clear inspiration from the Divergent series, and as the publishers mention, Graceling and The Red Queen, the way Farrow manages to convey the disorientation of the revisions of reality that Shae is constantly fighting against is quite well-written. Shae is a courageous character fighting for the truth. While not ground-breaking in its themes, this was an interesting fantasy world and I will definitely look forward to reading the sequel.

The audiobook is nicely voiced by Emily Shaffer and includes a poignant Author's Note read by Farrow. I love the German cover of this novel, which is so evocative of Farrow herself.

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