In this sequel to The Last Child, protagonist Johnny Merrimon and his lawyer friend Jack work together to defend Hush Arbor - the land Johnny inherited that is haunted by the ghosts of slaves - from those who think they have a claim to it.
Hart is a brilliant writer, and his descriptions of the Hush — the fictitious Raven County is somewhere in the swampy and wildlife-rich lands of eastern North Carolina — are powerfully evocative.Powerful too are his glimpses into the past, into the very real evils of slavery and what really transpired between Johnny’s ancestors and the Freemantles. The new literary territory Hart ventures into in The Hush is the supernatural. There are things that happen in the Hush, in the past and today, that will require some serious suspension of disbelief on the part of Hart’s more literally minded readers. But everything — the legal machinations, wild nature, tangled history, mystery, even the magical and mystical forces — works together to create a story that grips the reader and lingers in the imagination.
Hush Arbor truly is a haunted place, and the origins of that haunting go back to the days of the African slave trade. Hart skillfully weaves that history into the primary story. Set pieces recounting some of the region’s more horrific encounters are among the highlights of an engrossing, cumulatively disturbing narrative that encompasses murder, madness, magic, betrayal and obsessive, undying love. The result is unlike anything Hart has done before. The intertwining narratives involving John Merrimon, the Freemantles and their quest to possess the land and its secrets are consistently compelling, but Hart’s central achievement is his vivid, hallucinatory portrait of Hush Arbor itself ... With its supernatural overtones and blurring of genre boundaries, The Hush may well seem like an anomaly. Regardless, readers should happily follow along into its hypnotic world.
The Hush is a novel that is reminiscent of many Southern Gothic novels: hanging trees, slave graveyards, gritty characters who have seen the inexplicable, and a history that refuses to be buried. While reading The Last Child first may help give some insight into the relationship between Johnny—the 'Little Chief'—and Jack (and it will definitely fill in some gaps with Johnny’s family), Hart manages to weave the rich backstory into his narrative without a hiccup. The two men are fully drawn characters with a relationship that is easy to get behind ... The Hush is a visceral, atmospheric novel covering 6,000 acres and 150 years of troubled history. John Hart has written a worthy follow-up to his well-received The Last Child. Readers old and new will look up from the pages sometime around midnight, flooded with relief that they’re safe in bed and not out in the twisting trails of Hush Arbor.