2022 Reviews · contemporary fiction

Book Review: The Hush by Sara Foster

Title: The Hush

Author: Sara Foster

Published: October 27th 2021

Publisher: Harper Collins – AU

Pages: 368

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

The novel everyone will be talking about’ Natasha Lester

Everything can change in a heartbeat … The pulse-pounding new thriller from the bestselling author of You Don’t Know Me

Lainey’s friend Ellis is missing. And she’s not the only one.

In the six months since the first case of a terrifying new epidemic – when a healthy baby wouldn’t take a breath at birth – the country has been thrown into turmoil. The government has passed sweeping new laws to monitor all citizens. And several young pregnant women have vanished without trace.

As a midwife, Lainey’s mum Emma is determined to be there for those who need her. But when seventeen-year-old Lainey finds herself in trouble, this dangerous new world becomes very real. The one person who might help is Emma’s estranged mother, but reaching out to her will put them all in jeopardy …

The Hush is a new breed of near-future thriller, an unflinching look at a society close to tipping point and a story for our times, highlighting the power of female friendship through a dynamic group of women determined to triumph against the odds.

Review:

‘This is moving too fast. It’s surreal and terrifying.’

Classed as a new brand of dystopian post pandemic style fiction, a sub-genre that I predict a sizeable amount of growth in, The Hush is latest release from Sara Foster. This Perth based author has courageously produced an opportune work of fiction that feels more like a precursor to our post pandemic society. It is alarming and entirely plausible, holding the reader captive from the open to close of this stark tale.

The Hush strikes right at the heart of the British government, the political force scrutinised in Sara Foster’s latest innovative composition. Following the start of a devastating trend, whereby healthy babies do not take their first vital breath following birth resulting in immediate death, The Hush looks closely at this gut-wrenching situation. After these deaths become a commonplace, the government steps in to take control, resulting in a restriction of the freedom of women of child bearing age. With the government overseeing all the movements of its citizens thanks to new laws put in place by the Prime Minister, pregnant women seem to be disappearing.  The Hush closely follows dedicated midwife and mother Emma, who is a reliable worker in the oppressive British health system. When Emma’s teenage daughter Lainey finds herself in an impossible bind, they appeal for the assistance of Emma’s difficult mother Geraldine. This decision could have devastating consequences for both mother and daughter. 

West Australian author Sara Foster has managed to thrill me six times over thanks to her gripping set of psychological suspense novels. A new Sara Foster book is always a celebrated occasion and I’m glad I left The Hush until the relaxing school holiday period to read. This is one novel you will really want to soak in, mull over and reflect on. It is a brazen, striking and almost haunting text, highlighting the brutal reality of our possible future direction. What a fearless and brassy set piece.

One of the highlights of The Hush was the structure this book takes. I really valued the use of the situational day and time headings at the opening of each new chapter. This seemed to help ground the novel for me and it also adds a sense of impending doom to this rather urgent tale. There is a strong feeling of overwhelming danger, tension, powerlessness as the characters in this story lose their grip on a world destined for uncertainty. I thought Foster did a great job of capturing this fractured world, its complexities and ultimately its downward spiral. The focus on the political regime, power balances, control, cohesion, protection and the intense micro management of the citizens of this post pandemic society was evoked clearly via Foster’s vivid prose. This nightmarish scenario really played on my mind and I was almost relieved to now be out of my child bearing years.

Foster’s characterisation is brilliant in The Hush. Foster successfully embodies the spirit of the mothers, grandmothers, midwives, teenagers and other core periphery characters within the context of her fictional world. Foster accurately captures the pure emotions, rising tensions and deeply entrenched feelings of these lifelike figures. Emma’s profession was interesting to follow and I appreciated the opportunity to see this difficult form of essential work flipped on its side and challenged by the complex climate featured in The Hush. However, the true strength in this novel rests in the relationships and bond between the main characters in The Hush. Emma and her daughter Lainey’s deep love, trust and instinctive protection for one another is laid out bare. It demonstrates that even in the most trying of circumstances, it is the familial relationships that matter the most.

A poignant, daunting, immediate and pensive tale, The Hush provides a stark reminder of a very possible reality. An indispensable read, that is hugely recommended.

The Hush by Sara Foster was published on 27th October 2021 by HarperCollins – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Hush, Sara Foster, visit here.

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