Published by Self Published on June 6, 2017
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy & Magic, Occult & Supernatural, Young Adult
Sexual Content: None
Reviewed by: Rebecca
In a world where music is magic, the echoes can kill you.
Chester has been traveling from village to village, searching for his kidnapped father. One night while fiddling to earn a few coins, he accidentally connects to the Song—the music that fuels every aspect of the world. It’s illegal to interact with the Song—only a licensed Songshaper may bend music to his will—and when Chester is caught, he’s sentenced to death.
But just before the axe is about to fall, someone in the crowd—a member of the infamous Nightfall Gang—stages a daring rescue, whisking Chester into the Hush, a shadowy nightmare mirror-world where Music can be deadly and Echoes can kill.
Susanna, captain of the Nightfall Gang has been watching Chester. She needs his special talent to pull off an elaborate plan. And she’ll risk everything to succeed. Even Chester’s life.
In THE HUSH, there’s music and there’s Music. One is magical, there other isn’t. Untrained Musicians (capital M) are considered blasphemers. They are hunted down and executed since the only people that should harness the Song are Songshapers. So much of THE HUSH is balanced on the world-building. If you're not completely enthralled then the ending of the novel loses its impact. The book is full of description but I never got a real sense of the world. Towns seem to be in a western, frontier setting. There are farms, cattle barons, sugar barons, trains, and guns. There was real potential for mixing a growing industrial society with a magic system. Unfortunately, neither the world nor the magic system were well-developed enough for that kind of payoff.
Chester is on the road looking for his father. When he performs in a village and is sentenced to death for playing Music, he’s saved by a band of thieves who need his help. Chester is a likeable enough main character but I wish there had been more exploration of his backstory. Knowing more about Chester’s rural home, his exposure to cruel cattle barons, and his father’s life as a soldier, would have added so much. Susanna seems like a competent leader for the Nightfall Gang but doesn't act ruthless, or cunning enough, to be committing these grand exploits. Something goes wrong on every mission we see. I wanted Susanna to commit large-scale crime without missing a beat. Even though Susanna’s tragic past is tied to the plot, and is what drives her to thievery, there’s no real sense of repercussion.
It’s always fun to read about a heist. Even when each character is a stereotype, it’s still enjoyable because you know the bones of the adventure that you’re tucking yourself into. The world building is what lets the story down. There’s no personal investment in the world. It’s not clear how important it is that this gang is ignoring a religious rite until the end of the novel. Answers that should have been asked throughout the novel are smushed together into the villain's monologue. The prose of the novel is good but it excels when describing music and sounds. You definitely get a sense of the author’s love for music and instruments. Overall THE HUSH is a fun story but it lacks the depth it needs to be the twisty, revolutionary novel it wants to be.Series Titles:
For other books about teenage heists, check out Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo