Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Breathless ~ Tara Goedjen (earc) review [@TaraGoedjen @DelacortePress]

The Breathless
Delacorte Press
October 10, 2017
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

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.

The Breathless is a YA, paranormal, Southern Gothic but what sets it apart from from other paranormal, YA, Southern Gothics is its setting, the characters and their history. I loved that it was set in Alabama, along the Gulf Coast as most seem set in Louisiana or the Carolinas and the addition of the proximity of the water played an important role in the story.

Parts of the novel are set in the mid-nineteenth century giving us a glimpse into the past of Blue Gate, the once grand but now crumbling home of Mae and her family. It was both different and enjoyable that, despite it being the nineteenth century in the Southern United Sates, this story didn't involve slavery. It also gave us a fresh portrayal of magic and how it came into the characters' lives. (If I really think about it, I'm not sure how that family didn't have some kind of help, paid or otherwise but , oh well.)

We have a mystery in not only Ro's death - what happened, how it happened, who's to blame, why - but in where Cage has been for the past year. The questions around Cage's reappearance, where he's been, why he was gone - and why he doesn't seem to know Ro is dead - add an extra layer of intrigue and uncertainty to the story.

I really liked how Mae had to try to figure out if Cage could be trusted, to find out what happened to her sister, to understand the green book and her family's history all while still grieving. It impacts her decisions, how other characters are behaving or would react and why seems 'right.'

The Breathless had an original setting and origins of both the characters and paranormal elements and the mystery was well done and surprising at times. When the book was finished, though, there were a few things left unexplained (Some that could be inferred, maybe, from things said in story but some I just don't know about.). I wish we'd been given more explanation about these things or, if there were answers, that they'd been more prominent.

I am still puzzling out a few things but this was a fun, original read and I would like to read more from Tara Goedjen.

digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley

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