Hush by Dylan Farrow is a tale of finding out the truth, no matter what it costs you. In Hush, we follow Shae as she tries to solve who murdered her mother, and why it’s being covered up.
Shae lives in the town of Aster and has been treated like the black sheep of the town as her brother was victim of the Blot. The Blot is a disease that stems from ink itself, preventing people from having access to written word. There are Bards, people capable of Telling the reality around them to be completely different, and their jobs are to make sure the towns are safe, blessed, and free of contraband that would cause the Blot. Shae thinks she is cursed as her embroidery has started to tell the future, and attempts to contact the Bards to cure her. As she is dismissed by them, her mother is murdered before she comes back. Thus begins the real tale of Hush, and how Shae attempts to learn what happened.
“They say the First Rider brought light and meaning into a world of chaos and darkness. I wish he could have made it a little less treacherous.”
I’ve rated this two and a half stars. Let’s talk about the good first. The world was not so far from one we would recognize that a ton of world-building was needed, and the magic involved was new but understandable. The concepts were intriguing and something I hadn’t seen before. Additionally, using the fear of disease to force order was an interesting tactic (especially given the current timing). I found Kennan to be the most interesting person in the book, and I would have liked more information about her. The way the system is “brought to light” also was new and fun to read about. I liked that with the Tellings, you never really knew what was truly happening.
“The people cannot always be trusted with the truth. We would have raids. Riots.”
Here’s the thing, this book is marketed as a “powerful feminist fantasy full of surprising insights”. Unless the definition of feminism has recently changed to “all but one of the girls are incredibly mean to the main character for no reason other than competition”, then, I have no idea why this book is being marketed this way. The most feminist thing that happens in this book is when the servant says “We’re women- we have to trust each other, right?” That’s it.
There’s also a relatively unrealistic, and unnecessary, insta-love subplot that was distracting from the original story. Our side characters are slightly overlooked until the very end, where they suddenly grow into understanding people. You don’t see this growth, they just tell you about it. While this is a book about taking down a potentially patriarchal governing body, none of it felt insightful. In the words of me on twitter half the time, “It been knew.”
Honestly, if this book had not been marketed as such, I would have left it with telling you it was mediocre at best. However, the way this book was marketed led me to believe it would be a different tale. Instead, I got a relatively same old same old fantasy YA.