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[A quick note: I was so excited to get approved for this eARC. I wish...well, you can find my review below. But hey, I changed my photo theme for fall. If only the book was as nice as my photo. Haha]

(2.5/5⭐️) Shae lives in a world twisted by lies. A world where magic is used to silence the truth. When Shae’s mom is murdered, she no longer knows who to trust. She embarks on a journey to find the person responsible. Her search takes her to High House, where she learns she is a Bard, someone capable of Tellings. Her training reveals an untold power, and she is the only one capable of unlocking it. A labyrinth castle, secrets lurking behind every corner, and a devastating betrayal are all things she must face if she is to find the truth.

What a disappointment. This book was heralded as a fiercely feminist novel. It was anything but. Shae, our female hero, makes rash, and frankly thoughtless stupid decisions that will have you asking WTF at every turn. Stuff even YOU wouldn’t do. Moreover, at the end of the story, she needs a man to save her. How is this different from so many other books out there? I expect a strong female hero to be capable of thinking through a few decisions (at the least) and capable of getting herself out of whatever trouble she puts herself in. We all love a damsel in distress, but if its going to be marketed as feminist, then it needs to deliver. I disliked Shae’s character immensely, but that’s because of how she was executed. Let’s take a step back.

Reading Hush felt like reading a first attempt at a rough draft. The plot development, characters, writing, and pace felt completely underdeveloped. I’ve read plenty of Wattpad books and this felt like one of them. Or even an indy published book. Certainly not something from a traditional publisher. And it certainly didn’t feel like something that went through multiple rounds of editing.

Most obvious issues were character dialogue and character development, ESPECIALLY at the beginning. Characters said and did things that felt one dimensional and unrealistic. The most obvious thing that comes to mind were Shae’s friends’ reactions to her mother’s death. I mean, the guy who wants to marry her offers her one single line of “I’m sorry you had to go through that while I was gone.” And then he goes down on one knee two lines down and proposes. DUDE! Her mother just freaking died. And you don’t care at all? You’re not listening to a word she’s saying? And you want to marry this girl? What even is your concept of love? Instead you’re trying to marry her!? What an awful reaction! Is that how characters in Hush react?! It just doesn’t feel believable at all! And that was most of the characters through the plot. I mean, I understand the Blot taboo, and the curse taboo, but a character who has always looked past that (supposedly) is now ignoring a life altering event?! I almost set the book down for good at this point.

The entire first half of the book could have been cut out and relayed through a couple of flashbacks. The most important part of the plot “The Book of Life” isn’t revealed until the 50% mark. After that, Shae must discover it. The tests she goes through to obtain it are completely anticlimactic. In fact, everything about this story was anticlimactic. One of the ONLY cool things about her is that she sews and her sewing comes to life. For example, if she sews a couple of flowers, suddenly they appear before her. This ONE really cool aspect gets completely ignored while she is training and doesn’t show up until the end, for one anticlimactic moment, where she sews a much-needed door into being. Ugh. If I was an editor of this book, you can bet I would have required this aspect to be played up more, and woven it more into the story line.

The only unique things about this book were the plague, and the magic system of “Tellings” which was also very underdeveloped. They say “Telling” is a way of casting magic, but half the time, Shae casts magic simply using her mind and not speaking, or sewing something into existence (mostly at the beginning). So maybe I’m missing a few marbles, or else there was some definite disconnect there. So basically, there was very little I liked about this book.

I’m usually a very lenient judge of books. I nine point five times of of ten I give a book three stars or higher. If I don’t like a book I DNF, but that’s extremely rare. I forced myself to finish this one because I was mildly interested. But admittedly, this has to be the worst book I’ve read in years. I hate trash talking a book, but I don’t understand why this one is getting published. It needs to go through at least 10 more rounds of editing...Work out all the clunky parts of the plot, expand and further develop certain areas, etc. And for goodness sake, fix these poor characters into something more realistic, believable, and relatable!

Sorry, but I definitely DON’T recommend this. There are better books you can spend your time on. And I won’t be reading any further in this series. MY RATING: 2.5/5⭐️

Thank you NetGalley and Wednesday books for this eARC In exchange for my honest review.


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