Parents' Guide to

Hush, Book 1

By Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Intriguing, uneven dystopian fantasy in preindustrial land.

Book Dylan Farrow Fantasy 2020
Hush, Book 1 Poster Image

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This ambitious debut is compelling, though it also suffers from a lack of thorough world-building and character development. What's so appealing about Hush is how this preindustrial land of Montane is able to reproduce so many of the fundamental modern conflicts we face in our world. Gaslighting and its inherent gender dynamics, the dangers of propaganda, and the oppression of the powerless by the powerful are some of the major themes that Farrow integrates without being too on-the-nose about it. The writing is clear, the pacing is appropriately fast, and High House, and several scenes outside it, are described exquisitely.

The world-building, and its system of magic, aren't well developed, though with a sequel on the way, these can be more fully fleshed out. Shae is a spunky, brave, and determined heroine, but she is also gratingly naive, so much so that readers may find themselves yelling at her to stop being so immature and trusting. Several secondary characters have potential, but they feel flat and take on too-predictable roles. Aside from these critiques, it's a decent debut YA novel and dark fantasy-loving readers will probably have enough to like to make them eagerly anticipate the sequel.

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