Book Review: The Breathless
By: Tara Goedjen
Published By: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Page Count: 368
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Young Adult - Paranormal
Southern Gothics are my sort of reads once October hits. I love crumbling antebellum homes, Spanish moss, family secrets, and the possibility of the paranormal walking among the living. If you've ever visited cities like Charleston or Savannah, you might have considered that the line between reality and fiction could blur just enough to make some of the local lore seem real. While I've never visited coastal Alabama, I can only imagine that the setting is similar to the aforementioned cities, which is why I couldn't resist reading this one when it came to my attention.
The novel is told in multiple voices, but mainly follows Mae and Cage. Mae is the younger sister of Cage's girlfriend, Ro, who was found dead on the beach almost a year ago. All the signs of blame for the death point to Cage who ran and has been missing ever since. Mae isn't sure what to believe as she knows how deeply her sister cared for Cage, but she knows that Ro's death is anything but normal. When Cage shows up on the doorstep of their crumbling mansion in coastal Alabama requesting to see Ro, things take a turn. It appears Cage has no memory of that fateful day and can't help shed light on what truly happened to Ro, but for some reason Mae can't bring herself to believe he had anything to do with her sister's death. The pair begin a quest to uncover the secrets of Ro's death which will lead them down sinister paths of long forgotten family secrets and dark magic.
The magic system in this one had a lot of potential, but I felt that there were holes in it. I didn't get any sense of closure between the family's past and the current situation aside from Mae's choices in the final chapters. I still have so many unanswered questions which leaves me feeling as if I missed something along the way. I also felt like some elements in the final chapters were explained too easily and neatly.
I felt like this novel hit only the top of the iceberg. I wanted the author to go deeper and explain more thoroughly. There was a lot of potential here, but the execution missed the mark a bit for my tastes.
I did like the setting and Mae's tenacity. She couldn't settle for not knowing everything about what Ro was involved in prior to her death. Another aspect I enjoyed was the relationship between Ro and her grandfather.
All in all, this was a weird read for me. It had some spooky elements, but not enough to get my heart racing. The historical elements of the novel felt more complete than the contemporary segments. The writing in places was deeply atmospheric which I loved, but the overall execution of the plot was lacking. I needed fuller plot sequences and more character development. I also was not a huge fan of how the novel jumped around so abruptly between Mae and Cage. I find myself firmly lodged between loving this one and disliking it altogether. It had enough merits to keep me reading, but required some patience on my part.
One Last Gripe: I didn't love any of the main characters which made it difficult to immerse myself in their lives.
Favorite Thing About The Book: The setting
First Sentence: It isn't a night for raising.
Favorite Character: Grandfather Cole
Least Favorite Character: Fern - she was odd and creepy
No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year—almost to the day—from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is.
Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died.
And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets—dangerous secrets—about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever.
And maybe there are secrets better left to the dead.