The Hush by Sara Foster

Publication date: 27/10/2021

‘The babies demonstrate no signs of pain, and no will to stay in the world.’

Six months ago, in a post pandemic UK, a healthy newborn baby is stillborn. The first of many: close to 1 in 3 pregnancies is ending in stillbirth. Why? Expectant mothers are being closely monitored to see if a cause can be identified.

This is another challenge for the UK, still recovering from the effects of the pandemic and grappling with floods and rising sea levels because of climate change. The government’s response to these issues is to restrict individual freedoms. Citizens are required to wear smart watches, initially to monitor their health and wellbeing during the pandemic, but now the watches monitor an individual’s location, track their spending, and can record their conversations. All of this is supported by new laws passed by the government. And now young pregnant women are going missing. What is happening?

Emma is a midwife, trying to do her best in these difficult circumstances. She’s a single parent: her daughter Lainey is 17. And when Lainey finds herself pregnant, both women are in danger. Emma’s estranged mother Geraldine may be able to help but contacting her has its own risks.

Conspiracy theories abound and social unrest increases. The parents of the missing women are unable, unwilling, or afraid to speak out. And the stillbirths continue.

This is a fast-paced dystopian thriller in which a few heroic women work together to try to uncover the truth. Aspects of this novel are uncomfortably plausible in our current pandemic world, and Ms Foster brings her story to life through well-developed very human characters.

An uncomfortable, engrossing and thought-provoking read.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith