Page Count 320
Publication date March 2021
For fans of Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale, in Dark Lullaby a mother desperately tries to keep her family together in a society where parenting standards are strictly monitored.
When Kit decides to have a child, she thinks she’s prepared. She knows how demanding Induction is. She’s seen children Extracted. But in a society where parenting is strictly monitored under the watchful gaze of OSIP (The Office of Standards in Parenting), she is forced to ask herself how far she will go to keep her family together.
Dark Lullaby is such an apt title for this novel. There’s a constant oppressive and bleak tone for a world where your baby can be taken from you at any moment, never to be seen again.
We switch between present and past timelines from the perspective of Kit as both she and her sister endure the constant monitoring of parenting under OSIP.
They have eyes and ears everywhere, reproduction is at such a low in the future that any parent who cannot maintain the happiness and safety of their child every minute of every day are deemed unworthy.
As someone who doesn’t want to bear children, the prospect of a life restricted by that notion is horrifying. Women are valued by their ability and willingness to reproduce, their wages, residence and status depend upon it.
The constant stress and fear I imagine a parent to have is one thousand fold under the unforgiving eyes of OSIP. But wait until you reach the ending, when the secrets of OSIP are revealed and you comprehend the true depths of the darkness in this story.
Ho Yen does a fantastic job of keeping maximum tension from the beginning, so invested was I in the lives of Kit and her family that each revelation leading to the finale dealt an almost physical blow.
I think anybody sensitive to the many trials of motherhood should stay away from this book, it grips your heart and squeezes hard from start to finish. A wonderfully unique, thrilling, if difficult, read.