Book Review | A Shadow’s Breath

Title // A Shadow’s Breath
Author // Nicole Hayes
Publication Month // January 2017
Publisher // Penguin Random House
Genre // Young Adult

Then, things were looking up for Tessa. Her mum was finally getting her life back on track. Tessa had started seeing Nick. She was making new friends. She’d even begun to paint again.

Now, Tessa and Nick are trapped in the car after a corner taken too fast. Injured, stranded in the wilderness, at the mercy of the elements, the question becomes one of survival.

But Tessa isn’t sure she wants to be found. Not after what she saw. Not after what she remembered. 


A Shadow’s Breath is the first book by Nicole Hayes that I’ve read, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of her work now. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend her book launch party in Melbourne (my first one!) because it introduced me to her book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story opens with Tessa waking up in a car wreck next to her boyfriend, Nick. Hayes frames her story using the titles ‘Now’ and ‘Then’ as chapter headers to tell Tessa’s story leading up the events that lead to the car wreck, as well as her efforts to survive and make her way home. Tessa comes from a broken home – her father’s died years earlier, her mother’s a recovering alcoholic who’s only just kicked out an abusive boyfriend, and Tessa’s trying to build a small friendship group even though she has trust issues. 

Hayes did an incredible job to build a picture of Tessa’s life as a Year 11 student living in a small town, feeling trapped and wanting to escape. This feeds into the present-day story of her survival, wherein Tessa finds herself wondering whether she even wants to survive; whether there’s anything to go back to to salvage from her life.

I don’t often cry in books, but towards the end I had tears in my eyes as the reality sets in for Tessa  – and Nicole, if this is that moment that you spoke about at your launch, the idea that your editors suggested you change? I’m so glad you didn’t, because it was poignant and heartbreaking and beautifully written.

I gave A Shadow’s Breath 4 out of 5 stars.

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