THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE, by Ruth Sepetys, Philomel Books, Penguin Random House


A portrait of love, silence, and secrets under a Spanish dictatorship.

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera.


Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Includes vintage media reports, oral history commentary, photos, and more.

Out October 2019

512 Pages


I have received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I’m familiar with Ruta Sepetys’ work. She’s been described as a “master of YA fiction.”

So you can imagine my surprise when after, “Salt of the Sea,” “Between Shades of Gray,” and, “Out of the Easy,” this book comes out and I struggled to read it to the end. Every one of her books is a credit to her writing skills. She is a gifted and incredible author.

This book is full of emotional moments and often can be said to be “heart-wrenching.” It is deep and conflicted at times and brings to bear a truly incredible style of writing worthy of such a reputable author.

However, the things that irked me the most were as follows:

  1. The ending: too many open unresolved issues left me feeling like I was dangling over a canyon of WTF?
  2. Too many POVs : left me writing a roadmap on paper to keep track of who said what, where and why…
  3. Too many pages: If you’re going to write so many pages, make every single one of them count and no fillers… I could have lived without some…
  4. Be as real as you can with historical fiction: If you’re going to pick a time like Franco’s Spain, then make sure, you research EVERYTHING carefully and completely. Leave vagueness alone and never ever information dump at the beginning, or face boring your readers.

Despite the above, I still managed to finish this book and know many will enjoy Sepetys’ work, but her style of writing is a difficult one to get into. I do think this book is as the others she’s written and continuous of her author’s voice and style.

She is brilliant with character development, but surely less characters would have resulted as more value?

I gave this book:



2 thoughts on “THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE, by Ruth Sepetys, Philomel Books, Penguin Random House

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