Monday, October 9, 2017

ARC Review: Breathless by Tara Goedjen

Title: Breathless
Author: Tara Goedjen
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Format: ARC Paperback

Page Count: 368


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.
(taken from

“Like we told you, she will be dead soon. So it happens.
Though when a light goes out, it can be raised again.
You just need a box of matches."

First of all, I do not recommend reading this release while sitting alone in your home with the lights off and a storm brewing outside. Unless, of course, you love feeling like something invisible might be lurking in the dark corners and that whispering noise might be a spirit ready to haunt you. I definitely ran around my apartment flipping on all the lights after binging on this one for a few hour, but maybe I'm just a huge wimp.

Anyway, let's get down to business. There were things I thoroughly enjoyed about Breathless, and there were things that just fell so flat for me.

The characters, especially the three sisters, are pretty strong. Mae is the quiet, observant type while Elle is bursting with ideas and liveliness. Their older sister, Ro, died a year ago, and she was the sparkly glue that held everyone together with her irresistible charm and quirks. As the reader, you'll really get to bond with these girls, especially Mae. Goedjen does an excellent job of capturing their family dynamic and the grief the experience in the aftermath of Ro's tragic death.

The writing is captivating. Goedjen sets up a slow burn, and I flew through the pages as doors creaked and unseen eyes watched. Her subtle style was just creepy enough to send chills up my spine without freaking me out or revealing too much. I actually cackled and rubbed my hands together in glee at certain points because she did such an excellent job of hinting at terrible things to come. The suspense was that on point.

About half-way through, I hit some problems. As I said, this book is really a slow burn, but here's the main issue: We never get the roaring flames we've been waiting for. Sure, there are some smoldering embers and teasing breezes, but Goedjen never really drops the big bomb that's necessary top kick this horror story into full gear. The book's ending struck me as extremely anticlimactic, and I found myself quite disappointed. There was so much potential, but then the tension just kind of fizzled out.

Also, I feel that the quality of writing deteriorated as the story progressed. In the first couple hundred pages, Goedjen pays close attention to detail and crafts each scene meticulously. I was completely enthralled by Blue Gate and the eerie history that surrounded it. However, as the story speeds up, Goedjen looses some control over the plot. Chapters feel more rushed, and in the end, I was just kind of left thinking... "Okay, so what just happened?"

So, obviously I had some issues with this one and didn't fall completely head over heels, but I did enjoy some aspects of it. It's definitely a thrilling read, and if you're in search of some chills as Halloween approaches, I won't steer you away from Breathless. However, you shouldn't get your hopes up too high because it certainly isn't the incredible horror story I hoped it would be.