A Shadow’s Breath is told in alternating times. Now begins the novel with a car accident involving the main character, Tessa, and her boyfriend Nick. These sections are set in the harsh, hot Australian bush land where Tessa is not sure if she wants to survive after what she saw that day and remembers from her childhood. Then includes the incidents leading up to the car accident. It begins with Tessa and her mother Ellen in a peaceful domestic situation, one that Tessa expects not to last long. Since the death of Tessa’s father, her mother turned to alcohol and allowed an abusive and controlling partner to move in to their home. Tessa and her mother live in a small country town, in her Grandmother’s house they have inherited. This is unveiled during the narrative after the boyfriend, referred to as ‘arsehole’ by Tessa, has left and Ellen has been sober for several months. Tessa is always on tender hooks, waiting for the comfortable domestic situation to be shattered. Incidents in Tessa’s past: her father’s death, her mother’s dependence on alcohol and a pivotal, embarrassing incident that caused Tessa’s visits to the school counselor, are unveiled throughout the narrative. Tessa has had a lot to deal with, but has had a lot of support from her best friend Yuki, Yuki’s family, and her boyfriend Nick. In fact, Tessa has many supporters and people looking out for her, but she is not aware of this and seems to find it difficult to ask for help.
This book is, at times, heartbreaking. To give a full description of Tessa would be to give some of the plot away as her personality and outlook on life continues to unfold until the conclusion. She is tormented and at times confused, having little trust in the people on whom she should be able to rely. The characters are believable and the structure of the narrative effective in building tension and suspense. I am a great one for sneaking a peak towards the end of a book to find out what happens, but I couldn’t with this book. There are twists until the end and various sub-plots that kept me hooked. Recommended for a YA audience and those who enjoy a good, solid YA read.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Australia for supplying this book for review.