I received an eARC of the book through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest reivew. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Historical Age Range: YA Star Rating: 5 stars Series: Standalone CW: child death and abduction
Daniel, young, wealthy and unsure of his place in the world, views the city through the lens of his camera.
Ana, a hotel maid whose family is suffering under the fascist dictatorship of General Franco.
Lives and hearts collide as they unite to uncover the hidden darkness within the city.
A darkness that could engulf them all . . .
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I don’t usually read historical – or any YA outside of fantasy and thrillers – but I’d heard so many amazing things about this book that I requested it when it became available in the UK ahead of UK publication.
It was utterly stunning. Heart-breaking, but stunning (the amount of procrastination I did ahead of writing this review in the hopes it would help me get past incoherent “ahhhh it is wonderful” stage of loving a book!) It’s one of those “gentler” books in terms of pacing (at least, compared to my usual fantasy) and more immediate to the characters with that’s at stake, but it works so well for the story.
I know very little about this period of Spanish history, something I need to correct, so I had no idea what sort of story to expect going in. I though it was going to be a historical romance based off the blurb, but instead (well, alongside, but it’s me, so the romance was not the most important bit for me as a reader), it’s a tale about the secrets wrapped around people under Franco’s dictatorship that threaten to strangle.
The topic at the heart of the book (the abduction, abandonment, and selling of children under Franco’s rule) is rather bleak, but, thanks to the two hopeful, somewhat naïve main protagonists, there is a firm thread of hope throughout. I don’t read grimdark fantasy because I need hope and lighter moments in a book, or it’s just too unrelentingly grim for me. THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE has plenty of light in it, without compromising the nature of what is discussed.
There are four protagonists, with two other characters getting one chapter each to narrate. It allows the book massive scope and able to show various aspects of life in 1950s Madrid. There is the glamour of the American tourists, the struggle of the working class, and the dark secrets of the state-sanctioned orphanages.
The balance between those secrets, and their weight, as the protagonists learn more and more about the world they’re living in/visiting and their optimism for the future was well done. It gives the book room to give the topic the space and weight it deserves, while also giving you a reason to read on because you want to see how they’ll handle the news – and what they’ll do about it.
THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE falls firmly into the crossover category, with 19 year old protagonists, and then the final act/section set after the death of Franco (when they’re in their 30s). That was the bit that really brought the hope out, as the end of the 1957 section was really sad.
Overall, it’s stunning and I don’t feel like my review did this book justice!
Read my reviews of other books by Ruta Septys: