There’s much to admire in this debut novel, due for publication in November 2009, and not the least is its lack of pretension. Hush, Hush is a novel written to entertain and not to impress. There was a brief moment midway through the book when I thought I was going to regret the fact that the fallen-angel theme was being taken literally rather than metaphorically, fearing that I would find the rest of the narrative somewhat preposterous. But Fitzpatrick is already a sufficiently skillful storyteller to be able to carry the reader along and create the necessary suspension of disbelief. This is all done in the atmosphere of a Sunday afternoon feature film. I can’t say I was ever seriously moved or unsettled by the predicaments the main character, Nora, finds herself in, but I was always fully engaged.
The relationship between 17-year-old Nora, her best friend Vee, and Patch, the sinister but dangerously alluring boy who comes between them, is very adroitly handled in the first half of the novel, in short well-orchestrated dialogue-driven scenes that one can imagine transferring well to the movie screen. And cinema certainly seems to be an influence on some of the setpieces towards the end of the book (I think particularly of Nora’s encounter with Dabria).
As is inevitable with a book of this type, there is much in the way that the different characters’ motives are explained towards the end of the novel that is farfetched, but I didn’t mind that, since it was so clearly signalled that this was the type of book i was reading.
I would much rather have done without the short Prologue, set in the Loire Valley, 1565. For me, that came across as very ‘Pseud’s Corner’ish, and was the one false note in an otherwise highly accomplished first novel.