Title: The Hush
Author: Sara Foster
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Genre: Mystery, Thrillers, Sci-Fi, Fantasy,
Speculative Fiction, Futuristic
Release Date: 2nd November 2021
BLURB from Goodreads
A multigenerational, female-led thriller, and a terrifying conspiracy that goes right to the heart of the British Government.
Six months ago, in an English hospital, a healthy baby wouldn’t take a breath at birth. Since then there have been more tragedies, and now the country is in turmoil. The government is clamping down on people’s freedoms. The prime minister has passed new laws granting authorities sweeping powers to monitor all citizens. And young pregnant women have started going missing.
As a midwife, Emma is determined to be there for those who need her. But when her seventeen-year-old daughter Lainey finds herself in trouble, this dangerous new world becomes very real, and both women face impossible choices. The one person who might help is Emma’s estranged mother Geraldine, but reaching out to her will put them all in jeopardy …
It was the cover that first attracted my attention to this book, the image of the Russian nesting dolls, then the by-line of “Everything can change in a heartbeat” piqued my interest that I knew had to learn more about the book. As soon as I read the blurb, I was hooked and knew I had to read it!
This really is a very different world that the characters in this book find themselves living in. The free movement and privacy of the populations has been eroded away over time, with being instructed to wear watches that can be used to pay for items at stores. At first these watches are advised, then more strongly insisted upon, until now when they are compulsory to wear all the time. Their every move is tracked and logged by the government via the watches everyone must wear and never remove under any circumstances.
In England due to the strange occurrence of babies being born looking and being totally healthy yet never taking a breath, all women that have a positive pregnancy test are being closely monitored. In fact, the only way you can actually have a pregnancy test is to purchase one via your watch which then kicks in a whole sequence of requirements. Your pregnancy test result is not private. The government puts it across that it is in the mother’s best interest and the future of humanity that your pregnancy be closely monitored. Then suddenly young pregnant girls begin to go missing, some with their families, some without. To publicise the fact that young girls are mysteriously disappearing, PreacherGirl, a young girl herself takes to social media with a song about it.
It’s all these disappearances that prompt teenager Lainey into stealthily removing her watch that tracks her every move and placing it on the front paw of her dog Fergus and sneaking out of the house without waking her mother, Emma to meet her best friend Sereena. They have come up with a plan to obtain a pregnancy test without the act of doing so being registered in any way. Lainey does the pregnancy test all the while hoping and praying that it’s a negative result. She cannot bear the thought of having what has been nicknamed as a “Doll Baby.” Lainey knows she should confide in her mother, in fact, once she has the positive pregnancy test, she knows it’s only a matter of time until she has to say something. Lainey also has the added worry of Ellis, a friend from school having recently gone missing. The rumours are that Ellis was pregnant, but no one knows for sure and they have no idea where Ellis or her family have gone.
Lainey’s mother Emma has noticed that her daughter has withdrawn more and more from her lately. Emma blames herself as she has been so busy at work and under so much stress and pressure that she hasn’t really felt like striking up a conversation or pursuing the increasingly elusive Lainey. Emma is a midwife and is dealing with the “doll babies” on a daily basis. Emma used to love her job delivering bundles of joy, now a bundle of joy is the rarity. Emma still feels her calling is midwifery and is there to support the newly bereaved parents. Though that is stressful, it is the increasing paperwork that the Government and the NBCC (National Birth Crisis Centre) is demanding the midwives fill in. The working conditions Emma is working under are becoming increasingly worse due to paperwork, staff shortages and the increasing amounts of births being babies perfect in every way except they do not breath. These women have to answer questions about what they have been doing during their pregnancies, what they have been eating and so on as if it is their fault. The babies are being whisked away to be closely examined to see if any clues to this awful phenomenon is occurring.
I could truly go on and on about this book so much happens! I also enjoyed the different relationships between the strong female characters in the book. There’s Lainey’s relationship with her mum, Emma, then the fact Emma was estranged from her mother Geraldine Fox, but as a last resort turns to her for help. It seems perhaps Emma didn’t know the whole story of how and why her grandmother brought her up instead of her own mother. There are also strong bonds between Emma and her friends, and she has to make a difficult choice of who to tell the whole truth to and who to keep in the dark to protect them.
The whole Government and NBCC collusion is scarily so believable, the tracking watches aren’t a million miles away from the system of logging in and out of places using a mobile phone and barcode system the government in England implemented for their Track & Trace system in an attempt to keep track of where people were going and where the covid hot spots were! The population were just swept along without much say in what we were expected to do.
My immediate thoughts as I finished reading this book were, that the book had been an amazing read and that it was scarily believable!
Summing up, I loved this book from beginning to end. It is speculative fiction at it’s very best. I put this book right up there with other top speculative/futuristic fiction favourite authors, Rebecca Bowyer, Christina Dalcher, Tanvir Bush, NJ Crosskey and Joanne Ramos to name a few.