The Hush

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

I would give this novel 10 stars if I could! From the first paragraph I fell into the rhythm of the story. about Johnny and Jack, lifelong friends who have gone through horrific times and are about to again. All of the characters in this novel are so achingly well defined and as each launches into a quest for their own wants and needs, a thriller of a tale unfolds. Yes, there is an aspect of magical realism that can be off-putting for some, but Hart handles it so well. 

John Hart is one of my favourite authors. I'll read anything he writes and he hasn't disappointed me yet.

Thank you, Netgalley, for the e-review copy of this novel.
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This sequel to The Last Child went right on my buy list, but sadly it didnt turn out to be my cup of tea.  The novel started out fairly straightforward, I was eager to see what had become of familiar characters. I thought Mr Hart was moving into the realm of magical realism, but then I quickly realized he was entering a very dark area, with voodoo and the dark arts.  If I let myself look at the book as standing apart from The Last Child, I can deal  with The Hush, but as a sequel, I wasnt happy.  It read more like Stephen King or Dean Koontz with a little Anne Rice thrown in.  So, I can't say I was entertained. Im not sorry I read The Hush, just disappointed it wasnt the sequel I'd envisioned.
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North Carolina native John Hart returns with his new novel, also set in his home state, titled “The Hush.”
Hart continues the story of Johnny Merrimon, which began in “The Last Child.” It is 10 years later, and Johnny has spent most of that time living the life of a recluse, leaving his 6,000 acres of land only for short trips to town for groceries and to pay a quick visit to his mother and stepfather and buddy, Jack, now a lawyer making his way in a new firm.
There is something dark about Johnny’s land that not even he fully understands, but he feels comfortable there. It almost feels physical. Jack hates visiting Johnny there, but occasionally does so.
There are other people who want that land for disparate reasons:
The female descendants of the slave to whom Johnny’s ancestor gave the land feel that they are entitled to it in spite of the deed that indicated it should revert if no male descendants survived, as well as a wealthy hunter who owns adjacent land and has a secret agenda.
Johnny becomes the primary suspect when people start dying on his land. Jack, in spite of the orders of his boss, does what he can to help Johnny.
Hart’s prose is masterful, and he is a wonderful storyteller. I could almost feel the weight of the place myself. 
This is the first time that Hart has written a sequel for any of his books. “The Hush” can stand alone, but if you haven’t read “The Last Child,” I would do so because it gives you a better understanding of Johnny and why he does the things he does.
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5 Stars to another John Hart thriller! There's a special style to John Hart's words that make this book another sure-fire winner. Intelligent and interesting -
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I LOVE John Hart's books. I've read every one of his books, and I never know what to expect from him....with two exceptions -- page-turning action/plot and characters that are realistic and flawed and tug at your heartstrings. I was surprised to find this one venturing into the horror/supernatural genre, which is not my usual cup of tea, but I loved it!

The characters of Johnny and Jack and their connection as brothers (in spirit, not blood) are engaging and complicated. As the storyline progresses and the secrets of "The Hush" are revealed, they act logically (if not always in a conventionally wise manner) and I was rooting for both of them to have the happy ending they deserved. The story begins with a wealthy man trying to take over Johnny's family land. When the man turns up dead, I expected a legal thriller and was rewarded with a story that's part historical fiction, part myth and part horror that actually centers on the power of love and the evil of greed and selfishness. A lot to pack into a popular novel. This would make a great book club novel since it touches on so many areas.
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He spend the rest of the day alone. He gathered more wood, did some work on the cabin and sent to bed with little appetite. From the top of the tree, eh watched the heavens open like a flower. The moon settled, disappeared; and the stars emerged in infinite glory. He watched them long enough to feel the earth spin, and when he closed his eyes, it was all about the sound of the wind. It moved over stone and through the trees, licked off the water and carried its smell. This was the Hush, and it was his, and he didn't worry about the how of it or the why. He felt it like a tissue and bone, like blood in his veins. Drift long enough, and it was hard to tell where he ended and the Hush began. 

A stand alone read that is compelling and will stay with you. The best way for me to review this book is thru the main characters and the setting. 

The setting is known as the Hush. Where there is beauty, danger, history and secrets. The secrets are in the slaves that were killed in the Hush. Their deaths and their cries haunting the Hush even now. 

John Merrimon lives alone in the Hush, deep in the woods of the Carolinas. He is aware when anyone enters his land and their anxieties. He is bound to the Hush because of his awareness. He doesn't know the deep secrets but he feels a presence, a presence that leads him to the dark secrets of the Hush. He is about to loose the land and seeks the help of his childhood friend Jack. Jack is now a attorney and has encouraged John to leave the Hush. John will never leave the Hush. 

With contrasting characters in John and Jack and their friendship, you are pulled in Jack's concern for John and his well being. John for his conviction to stay at the Hush. To take care of the 6000 acres that have been in his family for generations. As he comes closer to loosing the land that he is bound to, he experiences nightmares that he cannot understand that are terrifying. They seem to be leading him to his destiny that is unknown.

When a billionaire hunter is found brutally murdered on John's land and he becomes the #1 suspect, John and Jack must find the secrets that have bound John to the Hush.

Reading this reminded me of an early Stephen King novel. In the Stand or the Shining. A combination of good and evil. Forces that are unexplained. Where things are not what they seemed. Where the greed of men and the love of men can be hard to define. What lengths some men will go to for love. And as always with redemption in the end. 

 Terrified and with the curiosity, I was pulled to the very end. Loved it!

A Special Thank You to St Martin's Press and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.
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There is no doubt that Hart has written a very compelling novel in The Hush. The quality of the writing is excellent. The setting is described picture-perfect, creating an atmospheric setting for what soon heads down the path of magic realism and a supernatural presence. It does start out rather slow, but soon events take off, violently. There is some shifting back and forth in time in the narrative as characters connect to others who lived in the past. "There is no normal in the Hush. There is only story and magic."
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There's something about Johnny Merrimon in John Hart's The Hush that sets people on edge. Perhaps it's his history, the murder of his sister, the terrible deaths that happened ten years ago in John Hart's The Last Child. Or, maybe it's because he lives a hermetic life in Hush Arbor, the mysterious swampland outside town that many people swear is haunted. Even his best friend Jack Cross thinks there is something weird about Hush Arbor and maybe even about Johnny.

Meanwhile, Johnny is trying to save Hush Arbor. It had belonged to his family before the Civil War, but his great-grandfather had given the land to the slaves he had freed. It reverted to Johnny when there were no more male heirs. The female heirs were suing and he could lose the land, land he felt bound to in more than just heritage.

In addition, William Boyd, a billionaire is trying to buy the land. He also feels a familiar connection as his grandfather hunted there and made a discovery that motivates Boyd who uses his wealth to keep local lawyers from representing Johnny. When Boyd turns up dead, Johnny is a natural suspect and the local sheriff would love to pin it on him. He is certain that Johnny is damaged by his past and dangerous and the Sheriff won't let anything like the law get in his way.

But there's another actor in this drama, the unseen forces of history, of the long ago past, haunting their descendants, not just Johnny, but the women suing for the land. There is a compulsion bringing them all to a terrifying confrontation.



John Hart is a good writer, even a great one. After all, I just read the kind of book I never read. When I saw Edgar winner, I made a false assumption about the kind of book this was, and somehow found myself reading what I would classify as a horror story, as weird fiction, rather than mystery, though it's steeped in mystery.

I don't like horror stories, not the really scary ones. Sure, I love campy horror like Dresden or iZombie, but real horror gives me the creeps, probably a remnant of my Baptist upbringing that prohibited reading supernatural stories because they opened the door to demons. Not that I believe in the supernatural, but it's still creepy. Something about authors dreaming this stuff up creeps me out. Needless to say, this book is scary. The mix of suspense, the supernatural, and the bloody history of racism in the South make it a perfect exemplar of Southern Gothic horror.

The Hush has a tremendous sense of place. Hart puts you right in that otherworldy swamp. In fact, he puts you in that swamp too well. It's why I had to keep putting this book down. I found it too spooky and gruesome. Hart makes you care about the people, too. I had to know what happened, I cared about Johnny and Jack. I cared about Cree, Luana, and Leon. He made me care what happened which made me keep reading this book that creeped me out.

The Hush is truly weird, and by weird, I mean in the sense that Lovecraft described, "the illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which forever imprison us and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces beyond the radius of our sight and analysis. These stories frequently emphasize the element of horror because fear is our deepest and strongest emotion, and the one which best lends itself to the creation of nature-defying illusions."

So if you like scary books, if you like horror and weird fiction, you will love The Hush. I don't and yet I kept reading and have to confess I liked this book even if I could only read it in small doses because it's so dang creepy.

I received a copy of The Hush from the publisher through NetGalley.

The Hush at St. Martin's Press | Macmillan
John Hart author site
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It has been ten years since we first met Johnny Merrimon and his best friend, Jack Cross, in The Last Child.   A lot has changed in the years since Johnny wouldn't let his sister's disappearance go unsolved.  Jack has become a lawyer, his mother has married Detective Clyde Hunt and Johnny is living on the 6,000 acres left for him in Hush Arbor.  Over the last ten years, Johnny has gained a reputation for being a loner who doesn't take too kindly to strangers being on his land.  Including the local billionaire, William Boyd.  Boyd is desperate to get his hands on The Hush at any costs.  Including funding a lawsuit that may cost Johnny his land, the basis of which goes back more than a hundred years.  But when Boyd is killed during an illegal hunting expedition on his land, Johnny is the prime suspect.  As the truth starts to come to light it is obvious that there is something much more sinister and Johnny's nightmares may be the key to solving not only Boyd's murder but all of the unusual events that have been happening in The Hush for more than a century.

I have been a huge fan of John Hart's for years and was eager to read his latest.  I was a little surprised at the supernatural elements in The Hush.  It goes all the way back to when Johnny's ancestors were slave owners.  And one particular slave, Aina, who had unexplained powers.  Johnny's great-great-grandfather was desperate to save his wife's life and was willing to make a deal to do just that.  A key part of the story is that a descendant of Aina's, eighteen-year-old Cree, was having the same kind of nightmares as Johnny.  Their connection was definitely supernatural and their hatred and distrust of each other went back more than a hundred years, but it was hard for both of them to understand why.   One of the things that I did like about The Hush was continued and strengthened friendship of Johnny and Jack.   It was the only pure thing about this book.  Don't get me wrong, I liked The Hush, I really did.  But it was hard to follow and I still don't feel like Boyd's death and the death of others in The Hush was ever fully explained. - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS   Both Johnny and Cree tell of the of their dreams, causing the book to jump around in the timeline.


Bottom Line - John Hart has done a great job of creating a mystical world that requires his readers to suspend disbelief and just open your imagination to the possibilities of a force greater than you.  Once you get a few chapters into it, The Hush is one of those books that you won't be able to stop reading!

Details:
The Hush by John Hart
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Pages: 432
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 2/27/2018
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It has been ten years since Johnny’s life was completely changed. He is now living in cabin in The Hush, acres of property that he has inherited from his family. The Hush has a deep dark secret that goes back hundreds of years. Mysterious things are starting to happen: Johnny knows things before they happen, he heals very easily, and has mysterious dreams. Despite all of this, Johnny likes living in seclusion and on the land. He goes into the city once a week for groceries, supplies, and visit his family.

Jack is now an attorney and working for one of the time law firms in town. He visits his friend, Johnny, every couple of weeks. He is starting to see a change in Johnny. After spending the night one evening in the Hush, Jack sees strange things that have him wondering. 

Miles away, a teenage girl is having dreams about The Hush that is drawing her back to her hometown. She finds out from her mom that centuries ago her family was freed slaves and lived in The Hush. Her mom tries to protect her centuries old family secrets.

Johnny finds a man murdered on the property and is arrested. Jack agrees to become his attorney. Both men try to solve the mysterious secrets of the Hush and what the heck is actually happening.

The Hush is the long awaited sequel to John Hart’s The Last Child. His previous books are more like John Grisham type feel to it. This book has more of a supernatural – Stephen King feel to it that I was not expecting. Supernatural books are usually not my type of genre, but I did like this one. I enjoyed reading what happened to the beloved characters from The Last Child. 3.5 stars.

Thanks to the publisher and Net Gallery for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I finally got around to reading it a couple of weeks ago.
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Published by St. Martin's Press on February 27, 2018

The Hush is a sequel to The Last Child, which I haven’t read. As I understand it, The Last Child is a straightforward suspense novel that deals with Johnny Merrimon’s search for his missing twin sister. The Hush returns Johnny as a central character, but the novel blends suspense with horror and the supernatural. It’s kind of a haunted woods story, although the woods are swampy which makes them even more foreboding. The supernatural slant will upset readers who think a sequel should be just like the novel it follows. I admire John Hart for changing up his game (there’s not much point in writing a sequel if you’re just going to rewrite the last book), but readers who can’t abide horror novels will likely be disappointed. In any event, the novel stands alone, and I don’t have the sense that I missed anything in The Hush by not reading The Last Child first.

Johnny lives alone in Hush Arbor, with no electricity or phone or running water, and no desire to leave. He inherited six thousand acres in North Carolina and is fighting to keep it. Sometimes he finds himself in the swamp in the middle of the night and has no recollection of walking there. The swamp was once thought to be haunted by slaves who were hung from its trees, as we learn in a flashback involving a young boy who made the mistake of hunting there in 1931.

Johnny drives to town once a month but prefers his own company. His father is dead. He avoids his mother and her new husband, a police detective named Clyde Hunt who apparently played a significant role in The Last Child. Johnny is trying to forget the past, but he knows he is forgetting how to live a normal life.

Johnny’s best friend, Jack Cross, is a new lawyer, having overcome a difficult childhood. Jack seems to be the only person who notices that Johnny is changing in ways that cannot be explained by isolation alone. His senses are abnormally heightened. His wounds heal with impossible speed. He is acutely aware of everything that happens in the woods and water, whether it involves animals, fish, humans, or trees. As the only person who visits Johnny, Jack senses the presence of something evil in the swamp and worries that it is affecting Johnny.

Johnny needs an appellate lawyer to save his land, but can’t afford one. Jack introduces him to an appellate lawyer in his firm who might represent him pro bono, for reasons that only she understands. Some of those reasons have to do with the arousal she feels when she thinks about Johnny, a sensation that multiplies when she meets him in person.

A grizzly death in the woods leads to a murder accusation, but the murder clearly couldn’t have been committed by one individual — a fact that doesn’t deter the sheriff from accusing Johnny. The murder provides the reader’s first inkling that The Hush is a horror novel. More deaths follow, as do a series of gruesome events with supernatural origins that are closely connected to the Hush, the Merrimon family, and North Carolina’s evil history as a slave state.

All of the secondary characters are created with an abundance of detail, including a rich hunter named Boyd who wants to buy Johnny’s land, a young woman named Cree who dreams (as Johnny does) about bloody events from the past, Cree’s mother who is trying to take Johnny’s land, a fellow named Leon who operates a ramshackle tavern/restaurant at the outskirts of the Hush, and the seemingly crazy old woman who raised Leon and who is the only person capable of understanding the dreams that trouble Johnny and Cree.

I don’t read many horror novels, but I enjoy them when the author creates an environment that is truly creepy. Hart does that in The Hush. As a place, the Hush is such a carefully rendered world that I set aside my skepticism about the supernatural and became absorbed in the story’s convincing detail. But The Hush is also the story of Johnny’s internal struggle — an eternal struggle between good and evil, when good and evil are not easily distinguished — and of his loyal friendship with Jack. Hart’s believable characters and settings, combined with a plot that is chilling and suspenseful, makes The Hush one of the best horror novels I’ve read in recent years.

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I’m not sure exactly why but I just could not get into this book! I gave up after 20 percent. I’ve loved the authors previous books but this one seemed different somehow. As always, thanks for the opportunity.
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John Hart is one of the kings of US 'rural noir', a master storyteller who's never really written typical thriller novels. From when he first broke through 12 years ago with the Edgar-shortlisted debut THE KING OF LIES, Hart has offered readers an intoxicating mix of lyrical prose, richly drawn North Carolina landscapes, captivating crime storylines, and chasm-deep characters. Hart, one of only two living authors to have won two Edgar Awards for Best Crime Novel (the other being James Lee Burke), is the kind of writer compared to literary maestros as much as fellow crime bestsellers.

But even given that resume, Hart throws crime readers a couple of major-league curveballs with THE HUSH, his new tale. After a series of remarkable standalones, for the first time ever Hart has brought a protagonist back. THE HUSH sees the return of Johnny Merrimon and Jack Cross, childhood best pals and adolescent heroes from THE LAST CHILD, a Southern Gothic mystery masterpiece that swept the Edgar, CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and Barry awards, among other accolades. In that tale, Johnny and Jack teamed up as Johnny searched for his twin sister, who'd vanished a year before.

A decade later, Johnny and Jack are young men. Johnny has retreated to a self-sustaining lifestyle in a remote cabin on the swampy, sprawling property of Hush Arbor that was in his family more than a century ago, and passed to him after the events in THE LAST CHILD. Johnny's land-rich, but cash poor, and many vultures are circling, eyeing up the rugged landscapes he calls home. Johnny is living life the way he wants, on his own terms, and Rowan County locals view him as as wild and untamed as the land he inhabits. Books have been written about his exploits; he even has groupies.

Jack, who was the wilder of the pair as kids, has turned himself around from teen tearaway to young lawyer starting his career at a well-regarded local firm. He's Johnny's only link to normal life, but even he finds himself questioning his old friend's insularity, and his strange attachment to Hush Arbor, a place full of dark and mysterious history, that seems to affect visitors in bizarre ways.

As Johnny's ownership of the land comes under threat from multiple angles, Jack wants to help his old friend, but also worries about the dangers that lurk among the swamps and trails of the Hush.

And it's those dangers that provide a further curve ball. Hart has always had a strong sense of the rural environment in his thrillers, the places and the people who populate them, but in THE HUSH that sense of place casts a long shadow. Not just a 'character-like shadow', it is pretty much a character in itself, with a swirling, malevolent personality. There's an elemental feel to THE HUSH, an ancientness, or mysticism. It's a thriller with more than a touch of magic realism.

So a few curve balls, and several places where the author could strike out. But in Hart's hands, he connects. Beautifully written, with that vivid, elemental sense of place and populated by an eclectic cast of richly drawn rural characters: blue-collar workers, rich landowners, entitled businessmen who fly in for hunting, a range of local lawyers, outdoors enthusiasts, and strikingly poor people that feel a great connection to land where their ancestors spilt blood or were enslaved (or both).

THE HUSH can at times feel like a bit of an experiment from Hart, but for me, it worked
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John Hart has set a high bar with “The Hush,” an intense journey through one man’s private hell. From the first page when we are re-acquainted with tree-perching Johnny Merrimon, who we first met in “The Last Child,” readers are in for a treat that involves past ghosts, present demons and future mysteries.

Johnny and his childhood friend Jack have secrets that others are dying to know. Some would give anything, including sex, to learn the secrets surrounding Johnny’s heroic efforts 10 years earlier. Others are dying in the swamps and forest that Johnny now calls home. And Jack, well, he’s got in the middle between trying to protect his friend and save his own life.

To say more about the plot would be cruel to the readers. They need to read – and feel – the power of the Hush Arbor.

In my opinion, this is the author’s best novel. Hart writes with a style that draws readers into the heart of his story and characters. This author never disappoints with his superb storytelling!
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I received a copy for NetGalley for my honest opinion.

I did not realize this was a supernatural type book. I also haven’t read the first book. I didn’t like it. It just was not for me. I’m sorry.
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I really liked The Lost Child and was anxious to read this one to see what the future holds for those characters.  I was a little disappointed in this one as it took a magical, suspend belief turn.
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Once again, John Hart took me to the edge of my seat as I read the continued story of Johnny begun in "The Last Child". This time Johnny is grown and lives life on his own terms in the swamp near his ancestral home and the deserted old slave yard. There is something going on there that is evil and not entirely of this world. Johnny is somehow connected, but once again misunderstood by the law. His friend Jack, now a lawyer, continues to stand by him, but is frustrated by Johnny's secrecy. The story connects with a young woman who is a descendant of one of the freed slaves from the plantation of Johnny's great grandfather. Both she and Johnny have "dreams" that take them back into their familial history. Add in people dying and going mad after daring to go in the swamp, and you have a complex and genre defying tale of terror.
I really like this author and this book. That said, I found it a bit complex at times and thought that maybe he could have cut out some of the detail which at times just slowed down this otherwise fast paced read. It is still an amazing story, and one that I would highly recommend whether you have read "The Last Child" or not. I continue to be a fan.
My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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I had a difficult time with this book. I'm not sure if it's because I didn't read the book that started this story, The Last Child, or if it was the supernatural aspect that surrounded the violence and deaths at Hush Arbor. Once I started skimming large portions of the story, I knew I couldn't finish it. I think that John Hart took this story in a direction and genre he hasn't really done before and it didn't work for me. I think he is a great writer and can tell a story, but I just couldn't connect with this one... on to the next!
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I had high hopes for this book as I have been a fan of John Hart but I was completely underwhelmed. This one has me going at first but then took a turn for the worse, not what I was expecting at all. It was hard to follow and just hard for me to struggle through in the end. I will look forward to more of his writing in the future but won't be recommending this one.
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Huge fan of this author. Very fast paced and very intriguing. I enjoyed how it kept me hooked and it was an original story. Nowadays so many books read the same. Highly recommend
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