This is a world where books are banned, because they are believed to have caused a plague. Well, not necessarily the books themselves, but the ink on their pages. The Indigo Death, and it spread throughout the land of Montane. It took Shae’s younger brother, and her mother never really recovered. In the village where she lives, certain words are never spoken in fear of the plague returning. (Unless I just don’t remember, they never actually called it “the Hush.” I think they only called it that on the back cover…)
Shae is a dumbass. I mean, she’s been raised as a peasant, but still. There is a crime, and people in her village are acting a little shady, so what does she do? She decides to go to the highest power in the land to ask for his help! He’s like the king or governor or something. He’s high enough in power that her issue wouldn’t really show up on his radar. If she went through proper channels (which she did not) she would have had no chance whatsoever of even getting an audience with him. (To be fair, he’s a baddie, and manipulates and takes advantage of her.) There are multiple times that I’m in my car screaming at Shae for being a dumbass. And what’s worse, she gets rewarded for her dumbassery! For example, she has a vague lead that this one dude may have committed a crime. So she sneaks into the men’s barracks (with no real clue of what she’s doing) to look for his room so she can search for clues. What is she expecting to find? And instead of finding nothing, which is what she deserved, she finds something that may or may not have to do with the possible crime!
Things get weird for a while.
I’m also a bit confused on the mechanics of the magic in this world. People call Bards have magic, and they can perform Tellings, which is magic? But when Shae is learning (spoiler?), it isn’t explained very well. There are a few times in this book where I feel like I’m missing something, or there is a chunk missing somewhere, and that’s pretty common from what I’ve seen in other reviews. (It kind of feels like the word count was too high, so the author had to cut some sections, but didn’t smooth out the edges to make it less obvious that something was taken out.)
Maybe part of my problem with this is that it feels like Shae thinks the world revolves around her. Everything is her fault. Also, the romance aspect is… weird. And I feel like it’s kind of shallow. I mean, she doesn’t want to be with one guy because she’s not feeling it, and props to her for admitting that, but then she has “feelings” for this other guy because he’s hot? And she develops these “feelings” after not really talking to him all that much. Suspicious.
Also, after things get weird, and then even weirder, there’s a part at the end that makes absolutely no sense. (I mean, there are a lot of those, but one really sticks out.) A character appears out of nowhere and for no reason I can see other than the author wants that character to be in the next book. There could have been ways around making them magically appear out of nowhere that would have worked better. Or better yet, use a different character that would have added more drama in the next book.