Review: Dylan Farrow tries her hand at YA fantasy fiction
“Hush,” by Dylan Farrow (Wednesday Books)
Dylan Farrow is best known for accusing her adoptive father, Woody Allen, of molesting her when she was 7 in her mother Mia Farrow’s Connecticut home. Years later, Farrow wrote about the 1992 incident, which Allen has denied, for Nicholas Kristof’s column in The New York Times.
Since then, Farrow has become a fierce advocate for abuse victims along with her younger brother, Ronan, who shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for his reporting on the sexual misconduct of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Now, Farrow has ventured into the realm of young adult fantasy fiction with her debut novel, “Hush.” For anyone who has paid attention to the lurid headlines about her case, it is hard not to see the book as a feminist parable of her own troubles.
The story is set in the dystopian land of Montane, where 17-year-old Shae and her mother have been ostracized by their town after Shae’s beloved younger brother, Kieran, dies of a plague called the Blot. Montane is ruled by the Bards, an all-powerful cabal who have harnessed the power of words through their Tellings to rein in the deadly disease spread by ink.
When the novel opens, Shae yearns to be a good girl and follow the rules — after all, she’s always been in awe of the Bards — but she fears that she has been infected, too. When the Bards come to town, she musters up the courage to ask for a cure. After being rebuffed, then discovering that her mother has been murdered, she sets out for the Bards’ mountaintop castle to seek the truth.
Wracked by self-doubt but with a heart set on justice, Shae, in an unexpected twist, is invited by the High Lord to learn the gift of Telling herself. After undergoing grueling training, she learns how to harness her own magical powers and sets out to restore justice to her ruined land.
With operatic emotions that cycle from ecstasy and despair on a nearly moment-to-moment basis, Shae embodies the turmoil of adolescent girlhood, and then some. But will she become a franchise like Katniss Everdeen of “The Hunger Games”?
Only a Bard would know for sure, but a couple years ago, Farrow signed a deal to write two YA books set in a fantasy world so you can be sure that at least one sequel is on the way.