Book Review: Hushed by Kelley York

Posted: September 17, 2013 by sidlove in 5 Star Reviews, Book Reviews, Nina's Reviews
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Reviewed by Nina


HushedTITLE: Hushed
AUTHOR: Kelley York
PUBLISHER: Entangled Publishing
LENGTH: 229 pages
BLURB: Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another – Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.


Goddamn, this is good.

I don’t know how Kelley York does it, but it’s like everything that comes out of her brain and fingers is magic. Don’t get me wrong, it does have a few flaws… I think. I mean, there must have been something. It’s just that I couldn’t see it.

From the writing to the characters to the plot – everything was masterfully narrated and fully developed. Beware of the gushing!

Let’s start with the writing, shall we?

It’s quite original, to be honest. It has something different, something very individual, that I couldn’t pinpoint at the beginning. Sometimes I felt like I was being told every feeling Archer was experiencing, like there were no secrets left for me to discover on my own, but then I realised that what this novel is, is not unsophisticated in matters of layering and secrecy – it’s candid.

The protagonist is fucked up, intense, hurt, emotional, good and bad and everything in between – and it’s all out in the open, for me to take with both hands and savour. And it feels wonderful, refreshing and startlingly intimate.

This kind of narration allows the reader to be swept along by the flow of events fully, aware of everything that’s happening and without having to worry that they’re missing some piece of information or being left out of the protagonist’s head.

Kelley York, I’ve noticed, has this two-boys-and-a-girl pattern in all of her GLBT books – this one, Suicide Watch and the upcoming Made of Stars – but it’s never repetitive or stereotypical, and I can tell you why. This author gets human relationships and dynamics and how different and original they can be, and she gets them because she knows how to build a complex, well-rounded, intense, humane character, who relates to different people in different ways and reacts to what happens around them in a way that is their own.

Archer, Evan and Vivian (I chose to list them in alphabetical order because I can’t figure out which one to put first, which should tell you something) stole my heart and trampled it. Period.

I can’t even talk about Archer, because he’s so broken, hopeless yet strong and full of light that you should discover him for yourself, and figure out if you can blame him for what he did. I know I do. But then, I can also understand and forgive. This is one of the reasons why I liked this book (and its author) so much. This is not a character that makes you say “well, you really can’t blame him” or “he was right all along” or “he’s actually perfect, other people made him do this”, like most others do; this is a person who has made many big mistakes. And yet I (and most other readers, from what I saw) still love him.

Evan… Evan is wonderful. Simply wonderful. Good, caring, sweet, strong – yet not perfect. He can push too hard while trying to help, he can blame people and be mad at them, he can give up and be defeated, although never completely – but what really matters is the way his essential goodness and ability to love shine through, and how he chooses to give all that love to Archer and get him through it all, helping as much as he can.

And help is what he does, because he’s exactly what Archer needed – someone who would get him and love him no matter what he’d done in the past, no matter his irrational feelings for someone who doesn’t even exist anymore.

In their relationship, the idea of “no strings attached” that Archer mentions is turned upside down, because here it doesn’t mean physical comfort without emotional ties – it means love and affection without any expectation or debt towards each other.

His relationship with Evan aside, the other two major events or changes that Archer faces are coming to terms with the new face of the girl he thought he knew, accepting that she’s not the girl he used to love anymore; and coming to terms with himself and with what he did.

And each of these is a long, slow, painful process, for him and for Evan; no easy cop-outs or fairytale happy endings – although, don’t worry, there is a happy ending.

And here comes the third element in this trio.

Vivian is a difficult one, and I think I’ll end up pondering her actions for a while.

What I can say with absolute certainty is that she’s fucked up. She’s damaged. She has issues, and needs help. Is she evil, though?

(I seriously need to shut up. Just bear with me a little longer. Here’s about the plot. Or, wait, I’m not telling you anything about that; here’s about how the plot made me feel.)

The story happens over the course of three months – from August 31st to December 6th, and it feels weird to see how quickly things can change so much. Three months is a flash, a moment, considering the amount of traumatic events packed in here, but at times I could feel time trickle by, agonisingly slow, just like Archer perceived it, and that’s only proof of Kelley York’s talent in keeping readers on the edge of their seat, slowly dying inside and being sparked back to life with every chapter.

The second time around reading this novel – which happened because I want to review all of Kelley York’s books (weird obsessions, anyone?) and because I wanted to see how much my opinion has changed after reading hundreds of other books with GLBT characters – I realised that the first time I liked this novel not because of the thrill of new-to-me gay deliciousness, but because it’s fucking great, and that has nothing to do with the genre it could fit in.

Suspense, love, craziness – you’ve got it all.

BUY LINK: Amazon

Nina is one of new reviewers joining The Blog of Sid Love.

I welcome her to the team!

  1. bringuivera says:

    Great review – I loved this book too. Kelley York really manages to write characters that you cannot help but root for (well maybe not Vivian lol).

  2. Nice review NIna! And welcome to the team 🙂

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