Study Guide

Hush, Hush Writing Style

By Becca Fitzpatrick

Writing Style

Contemporary and Legendary All at Once

Contemporary and legendary might seem like opposites, the first indicating a modern-day feel and the second suggesting a timeless, old-world flare. So how can a text incorporate both? Fitzpatrick does so by introducing the two styles side-by-side in the prologue and the first chapter.

The prologue throws us back to 16th-century France, with lots of dramatic detail such as an impending storm, a historic graveyard, a mysterious boy landing atop a monument like a gargoyle straight from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and reference to the iconic Loire region, which is said to have inspired a number of literary masterpieces including Charles Perrault's fairytale "Sleeping Beauty" (source). Against this backdrop, Patch and Chauncey cryptically delve into the world of fallen angels and Nephilim.

Now, compare that with the super contemporary vibe in the first chapter, complete with references to eZines, eating organic, and Henley shirts. That dark and atmospheric feeling from the prologue is replaced with a present-day bio classroom and teenage cracks about sex ed. In other words, we go from feeling like we're reading a dark fairy tale to feeling like we're sitting at school, surrounded by friends. In this way, with a one-two punch, the book sets us up to expect a contemporary writing style infused with legendary moments.

After Chapter 1, the contemporary YA style (think: short sentences, relatable teenage conversation, that sort of thing) dominates a little more than the legendary style, but Fitzpatrick makes sure the legendary thread doesn't fall away too much. She does this by busting out flashbacks and detouring into passages that lay out the angel myth, as well as in short blips of description.

For example, Nora describes the farmhouse in which she lives as being set in "the eye of a mysterious atmospheric inversion that seems to suck all the fog off Maine's coast and transplant it into our yard" (2.1). Not too far off from that foggy setting in France, eh? In another example, when Nora is driving with Patch back from Portland, she thinks:

I'd been this way before, and when the sun was out, the water was slate blue with patches of dark green where the water reflected the evergreens. It was night, and the ocean was smooth black poison. (21.93)

Sure, these are Nora's thoughts, but have you ever heard any of your friends wax poetic in casual conversations like that? We're guessing not. Bits like this are thrown in to keep the legendary style alive as the plot unfolds in modern Maine.