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Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: October 6th, 2020

384 Pages

Synopsis: 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 from 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.

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

~ Dylan Farrow, Hush ~

I was so excited when I learned that Dylan Farrow was coming out with a YA feminist fantasy. And when I read the premise for Hush and saw the exquisite cover, my excitement only grew. After finishing this last night, I can honestly say that while it’s a little rough around the edges, Farrow’s debut is an entertaining and thoughtful read.

There is so much I loved about this.  Shae is a likable, unreliable character (my favorite kind), who is passionate and impulsive, and embarks upon a fascinating journey of self-discovery in this first book in a planned series. The secondary cast is a mixed bag with some being wonderfully drawn like the servant Imogen, but others such as Shae’s best friend Fiona, needing a little more fleshing out. I liked Shae’s love interest, Mads, but I felt the chemistry between them a little lacking.

The world building is gorgeously visual and detailed, although there are times the volume of descriptive language overwhelmed the story and made it a bit disjointed. Aster, Montane, and High House are all brought vividly to life. The story itself is a mix of slow and fast moments, but for the most part I remained thoroughly engrossed.

I think if Hush was a stand-alone, I’d probably be giving it only 3 1/2 stars, but it holds so much promise, and I can see this developing into a truly epic series. Farrow’s longtime activist roots are definitely on display here, but what’s so impressive is how original, insightful, and creative this is. Honestly, I will be shocked if this isn’t optioned by Hollywood. The sequel isn’t coming out until 2021, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be reading it.