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Don't Breathe a Word

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3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  8,261 ratings  ·  1,740 reviews
On a soft summer night in Vermont, twelve-year-old Lisa went into the woods behind her house and never came out again. Before she disappeared, she told her little brother, Sam, about a door that led to a magical place where she would meet the King of the Fairies and become his queen.

Fifteen years later, Phoebe is in love with Sam, a practical, sensible man who doesn't fear...more
Paperback, 447 pages
Published May 17th 2011 by Harper Paperbacks
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Community Reviews

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Mary Catherine
Take a moment and stare at the cover. Really, just look at it for a few seconds. It’s a bit unnerving, isn’t it? This little child with wide eyes seems to be staring into your soul, seems to be silently daring you to reveal secrets you’ve kept for years. Do you suddenly feel the need to look away? Maybe you’re wondering why her face seems to show a mixture of despondency and maybe a bit of fear in the midst of inquisitiveness and uncertainty.

That’s what it will feel like when you read Jennifer M...more
Jayne
(from my book blog)

Uuuuugughghghghhghg I was SO disappointed by this book. Reviewing Sharp Objects a few days ago put me in the mood for a good, creepy book, and I thought this was going to be exactly what I needed. Just look at the plot description!

"Family secrets and fairy lore create a shifting reality in McMahon’s unsettling novel about the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl who longed to become Queen of the Fairies. Fifteen years after Lisa goes missing, her younger brother, Sam, gets a s...more
K.
This premise sounded intriguing enough. I love it when fantasy crosses over into reality and you're never sure if the truth is really magic or something so disturbingly human. You're never sure which you'd prefer. Don't Breathe a Word does that exactly (p.s., I hate that title). For the first two-thirds of the book you're sure its fantasy and that this somewhat malevolent take on fairies is the explanation to it all. And then secrets are unraveled and what the blurg, there's a practical explanat...more
Bonnie
Yay! I love winning books. Thank you Goodreads. :)

**

Okay first off? The summary of this book does not even begin to prepare you for the weird ass, beyond twisted little journey that the author takes you on. I spent the majority of this book so mixed up with trying to determine exactly what the hell was going on.

Bottom line? This book was one big:

Yep. That’s me. Reading this book. In utter confusion.

Now that’s not to say that this was bad of course; I really enjoyed reading this. The first ¾ at...more
Chara
Captivating. Slightly creepy. Very different from what I expected after reading the publisher description. Spooked me in a way I haven't been from reading a book. Its like when you're a child and you run up the stairs, not looking behind you, because you're unsure if the boogeyman is really back there or not.

The ending was surprising. It was obvious that there two major ways the story could go. I was so drawn in to the story and characters and all the imaginative ideas and tales from the childre...more
Megan
Don’t Breathe a Word started off as a well written and creepy tale. Somewhere along the way the characters never became fully developed, and the crazy events spiraled a little out of control. The bestest book ever? No. Totally engrossing and entertaining? Oh yeah. This book reminded me of a really good Lifetime movie. (But I gotta confess I love Lifetime movies; the good ones, the bad ones and the ugly ones!) So this fluff-infused eerie and suspenseful novel is the perfect brain candy for me. Li...more
Mhgoblue
Well, that was...not very good. Poorly written. There were a few parts that were legitimately creepy. But!

The book was all telling instead of showing. Every few chapters, the whole story would stop so the author could lay out some new character's backstory and personality in a perfunctory info dump. Lazy, sloppy, and boring writing.

The main characters not only didn't react to anything the way actual people would, but whenever they learned important plot points and clues, they got amnesia over th...more
K
Is it just me, or was this book ridiculously poorly written? I felt like I was reading a book written for fifth graders. Choppy writing, nonexistent characterization, clumsy dialogue, children who didn't sound or act their age -- all there was was plot, basically, and even that was convoluted and confusing.

Lisa, older sister to Sam, disappeared at the age of twelve either to a supernatural world or as a victim of a sordid kidnapping. Fifteen years later, adult Sam's strangely dimwitted girlfrie...more
Sarah
From the best-selling author of Promise Not to Tell and Harper Collins Publishers of New York city, comes a thrilling page-turner that pushes the limits of this world and that of fantasy, written by Jennifer McMahon.

Starting with the first chapter, the protagonist, a young woman named Phoebe proves to be unlike other girls her age, showing characteristics fostered by her absent father and alcoholic mother. Promiscuous at a very young age, the teenage Phoebe seems to have grown up far too quickly...more
Gregandemy
Another Goodread's giveaway win!! Thank you!
I was intrigued by the cover and the author's summary, but I must admit it I was expecting more of a fairy version of Chronicles of Narnia. That, this is definitely not, but I wasn't disappointed. I got hooked quickly into the mythical and creepy story. For most of the book I had planned to give it a 4 star review. It was so different and capitivating. I didnt want to put it down, well, atleast not until it was dark outside and then it got a little sc...more
Cheryl
Spoilers!

I chose to read this book because the cover caught my eye, a friend had read it, and it got a lot of good reviews. It was difficult for me to get into it, though, simply because of the premise. I mean, seriously, who ever heard of evil, murderous fairies? Everyone knows fairies are supposed to be good. (Like the fairy godmother who gave Cinderella everything she needed to go to the ball. And the Tooth Fairy. And let's not forget the Fairly Oddparents.) The very few times I was able to s...more
L-J Johnson
I wasn't familiar with this author so I had no preconceptions if the final reveal of this mystery was possibly supernatural or not. The first two-thirds were pretty good; fast-paced, atmospheric, fairly spooky, decent character development. Three children - Lisa, her brother Sam and their cousin Evie - play in the woods in the ruins of a deserted village and the two girls become obsessed with the idea of fairies living there and contacting them. Sam doesn't buy in. Lisa disappears one night afte...more
Josephine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kat
Second creepy book of this weekend (the third one is The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain, though creepy in a different way). It draws you in and keeps you in suspense for a good many pages and ufortunately I finished it. I so wish I didn't. What I liked about it at first was the class difference, so rarely touched on in the books I read, between the two protagonists, Phoebe and Sam, and the mystery of the disappearence of Sam's sister Lisa 15 years earlier. Lisa went off to the woods to join t...more
Greta Logan
As many problems as this book has, its biggest is this one: it is addicting. I could not put it down.

Whatever Jennifer McMahon hoped to accomplish with writing this extremely bizarre book, she certainly succeeded in the suspense department. I haven't been so hooked on a book since The Da Vinci Code. However, that does not by ANY means mean this book was good.

I mean, look at the cover. Look at the title. Look at the premise. It's stupid. There is no way anything like this could possibly not be s...more
Carole
My friends and I call this "The Creepy Girl Book", which I love. When you walk past this book while reading it, you instinctively want to turn the cover face down because it's so...well, creepy. Honestly, I was uncertain about how to rate this book. There were so many twists and turns that it was difficult to keep it all straight and I'm still not sure I know exactly what happened, but I think that's how the book is intended. I don't read fantasy and when I was reading this book, I was back and...more
Cat Russell  (Addicted2Heroines)

I really don't know what to say. Never has a story left me so unsettled.


Do I believe in fairies? No.


Am I now worried that there's a hidden trapdoor underneath my bed? Absolutely.


This is not your average fairy tale that inspires sweet dreams. This is a psychological thriller that is likely to give you nightmares.




"I don't believe in magic," she said.

"You will."
Beadyjan
It's a sheer pleasure to review this exciting new book kindly provided by Netgalley

Reading the publishers blurb might lull you into thinking this is a teen fantasy fairy romance - well think again, this is no cozy bedtime tale.

What it is however, is a thrilling, tense, psychological chiller abounding with rollercoaster twists and turns. It grips you by the throat with sharp pointy little teeth and shakes you until you want to scream!

The storyline zips back and forth between the present day wher...more
Ns
If you like thrill and chills, give Don't Breathe a Word a try.
I can't remember the last time I read a book that creeped me out, but this book remedied that quickly enough. In a good way.

The people we meet come across as very ordinary but quickly their reality will shift into one filled with mysteries and secrecy that will leave you anticipating their next move. Phoebe and Sam's lives are disrupted when Sam's past returns in the form of Lisa, the sister who went missing fifteen years ago. How is...more
Erica
Jan 17, 2011 Erica added it
This is Jennifer McMahon's fourth literary thriller, and I think it is her best. All involve women uncovering the secrets of a past crime, but for me this one has the best combination between past and present. I read the entire 445 page book in two days, and would have read it faster if I didn't value my sleep. The resolution of the mystery might be a little too much for some people, but I found it to be a) rewarding (as in, it made sense with the rest of the book and was not something i complet...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
In this stunning novel by Jennifer McMahon the line between reality and fantasy is blurred by secrets and lies, madness and myth. Lisa is twelve years old when she disappears in the woods behind her home. Legend considers the woods dangerous, an entire village had once vanished leaving behind only an infant boy, but for Lisa, it is a place of magic, a door to the realm of the fairies ruled by King Teilo and her greatest wish is become his Queen. Fifteen years later, Lisa's brother Sam, and his g...more
TC
This the author's fourth book, but the first I have read of hers. It is described as interweaving family secrets, dark loves, and the allure and fear of the supernatural. I'm not necessarily a big believer in all things supernatural but I'm certainly open minded and as it sounded quite dark and mysterious it appealed to me.

One night 12 year old Lisa goes into the woods behind her Vermont home and disappears. She has told her brother Sam that she has met the King of the Fairies, and that he is go...more
Pei
I wasn't sure I would enjoy a book about fairies supposedly in the real world for the first few chapters, but I persevered as part of a book club read. The more I read, the more drawn into the story I was and I began to enjoy the little twists and the turns and the mysterious happenings in the past and the present. It isn't particularly scary but it does has a hint of suspense in it. As the plot began to unravel in the last third of the book and everyone's lying and everyone's got a secret, it s...more
Samia Joseph
Jun 10, 2011 Samia Joseph rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cressida, Shazia
Shelves: 2011-reads
This book was creepy. I have not read a book that gave me chills the way this one did in a long time and I would have never guessed how creepy it would be based on the publisher's description. I loved the book and could not put it down finishing 447 pages in less than 2 days. I gobbled it up and when home alone reading, literally feeling my spine tingle.

So if I loved it so much and ran through it so quickly, why only 3 stars? The first 2/3 of the book were AMAZING. The character development, th...more
Keilani Ludlow
Weird and weird. It involves a kidnapping, a family with some serious issues slowly coming to light, and possibly the unnatural. The question is - was the girl kidnapped or taken by fairies. It continually bounces back and forth between making you think it's a realistic book with a creep who has the kids convinced he's the king of fairies, and a fantasy book set in a realistic world that does cross over with the world of magic. I'm of two minds on this book. It definitely kept me riveted, to see...more
Nancy
From Goodreads: On a soft summer night in Vermont, twelve-year-old Lisa went into the woods behind her house and never came out again. Before she disappeared, she told her little brother, Sam, about a door that led to a magical place where she would meet the King of the Fairies and become his queen.
Fifteen years later, Phoebe is in love with Sam, a practical, sensible man who doesn’t fear the dark and doesn’t have bad dreams—who, in fact, helps Phoebe ignore her own. But suddenly the couple is f...more
Alison
This was a pretty creepy book and I really enjoyed the storyline. It kept you turning the pages and wanting to know more. The chapters go back and forth between present and past and every time I got to the end of a chapter I was slightly left hanging, then would get involved with the new chapter and left hanging again and so forth. It was an exciting read that I couldn't put down and it gave you that child like scare and made me keep my feet covered at night!!

BUT- Ah yes the inevitable "BUT" an...more
Walchies
I have never both loved and hated a book as much as I did this one. It's dark, twisted, not the kind of book you read before bed time. It had everything going for it...until the END. I was completely captivated by this story, so much so that I read this book in one day. I could not wait to find out how everything unraveled...waiting for the big payout that was the end. However, the payout ended up being more questions, and a cliff hanger ending. Now if this was going to be a series of books, I w...more
Melanie
I kind of hated this book. It was well-written and the 2.5 stars are just for that. Somewhere in the middle, I almost stopped reading, but I wanted to find out what happened. The problem is that what happened was ridiculous.

If you've looked into this book, then you know the premise is that Lisa disappeared 15 years ago, supposedly crossing over into the land of the fairies. The book chapters alternate between Lisa's viewpoint 15 years ago and Phoebe's viewpoint now. Phoebe has met and is in love...more
Sandi
I've been having trouble with my FirstReads wins lately. I've received some great looking books, but I just haven't been able to focus enough to finish one. However, Don't Breathe a Word turned out to be just the ticket for my inattentiveness. There is no way I can describe this book without giving chunks of it away. It really defies genre classification. It's a bit gothic, a bit thriller, a bit fantasy, and a bit horror. One of the best things about it is the ambiguity, especially with the endi...more
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Bookworm Bitches : February 2012: Don't Breathe a Word 118 372 Apr 30, 2014 05:24PM  
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I'm the author of Promise Not to Tell, Island of Lost Girls, Dismantled, Don't Breathe a Word, and The One I Left Behind. My next novel, The Winter People will be released February 11, 2014. I live in central Vermont with my partner and daughter, in an old Victorian that some neighbors call The Addams Family house.
More about Jennifer McMahon...
The Winter People Promise Not to Tell The One I Left Behind Island of Lost Girls Dismantled

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“Ain't no point worrying about what's been or what's gonna be. You just gotta do your best right now. And trust everyone else is doing the same.” 26 likes
“...they were exactly what the other needed; the missing piece that made everything else magically click into place.” 13 likes
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