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A Shadow's Breath

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  299 ratings  ·  74 reviews
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'
Paperback, 316 pages
Published January 31st 2017 by Penguin Random House
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  299 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Fleur Ferris
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I've just finished reading and I'm a little lost for words, but the ones that come to mind are: beautiful, brilliant, unexpected, unsuspecting, seductive, shocking.

I don't want to give anything away. Just read it. Please. READ. IT. I need to talk about this book.

Nicole Hayes' best work yet.
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It might be too soon to write this review, I'm still an emotional wreck. I won't give anything away - read the blurb if you want the gist of the story. Instead I'll tell you that I read this book holding my breath. It made my chest tight. That slowly closing fist compressing my heart as I braced for calamity. Now don't get me wrong this book isn't a wallow in misery, there are wonderful moments of humour, awkwardness, tenderness, passion and joy but the cleverly constructed narrative straddling ...more
Very intense and suspenseful. Also deals with some tough issues, and spills some shocks by the end.

Effective use of the 'now' and 'then' framing.

Of course, I cried.
Jeann (Happy Indulgence)
This review was originally posted on Happy Indulgence! Check it out for more reviews.

Alternating two points in time, the past and the present, Tessa deals with the emotional effects following domestic violence in her family. A Shadow’s Breath explores what happens after the fact – her mum is now recovering from alcoholism after getting rid of her abusive partner.

A Shadow’s Breath covers the complex family issues surrounding domestic violence. During the more traumatic years of her life, Tessa st
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved it, just the setting, the writing, the amazing plot lines running parallel and working so well together.

The thing that wowed me about this book? The writing!

A Shadow's breath has a past and present time line, alternating every chapter and the chapters are really short so I was turning these pages frantically wanting to know what led up to the car accident as well as if the characters would survive in the now timeline!

Usually with stories that contain alternating time lines I'll prefer on
Rob De
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story full of heartbreak and courage with fantastic, raw and believable characters. It constantly throws up unexpected twists both from the now and the then alternating chapters that make it really hard to put down. Fortunately I didn't have to worry about that as I had enough time to read it in one sitting. It is another fantastic book by local author and super talent Nicole Hayes! ...more
The date I read this may be a little out, but the timing is not. I devoured this book in a sitting. It is a compelling and heart-wrenching story, and the writing is spot-on. I was taking with a friend recently about reading books that have a moment where you are thrown out of the story because of a bum note in either the plot or the characterisation - there's none of that in here. From the first page I was sucked into the claustrophobic, despairing and tense predicament that Tessa finds herself ...more
Bec (becklebooks)
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Simple and clean writing with such complicated themes (abuse, alcoholism, suicide) that punched me in the gut with that plot twist. HECK!
Tania Poole
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it
It was hard to put down, I constantly wanted to see what happened in the 'now' chapters. so I read this one in two days. Gripping stuff!!!! ...more
May 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I’m inspired by seeing my friend Sam DNF’ing a book that hasn’t grabbed her and I have decided to DNF this at 37%. I just can’t do it anymore. I’m reading on average of 80 pages a day this year so I should have smashed this book out in about 4 days. I’ve been trying to read this for 11 days! This book has brought my daily average for this month down to 35 pages! This is my third attempt to read it since my book club did in April 2017. Enough is enough.

I’m spewing coz the blurb and premise sound
cake and madness
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Holy shit. Wow.

This book was incredible. Not a single word was wasted in telling the story (alternating between the past and the present) of Tess, who comes from a broken home and who is trying to survive/get back to civilization with her boyfriend Nick after their car rolls off a cliff in the bush.

Flashbacks show her and her mother putting their lives back together after her mother's abusive boyfriend (whom Tess refers to as The Arsehole) finally leaves for good- but Tess is suspicious a
Trigger warnings: car accident, blood, broken bones, domestic violence (off screen), death of a parent (in the past), alcohol abuse (in the past), bushfire, (view spoiler)

I sped through this in a couple of hours - I really enjoy stories that cut between the present and the past in alternating chapters as a story telling mechanism because it really keeps the story moving along. There's a lot of darkness in this book, but the main gist of it
Tracey Lee
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The reason I enjoy YA fiction is the honesty of a genre that cannot hide behind contrived writing or obtuse metaphors, relying instead on strong narratives and substantial character development. The challenge is then to achieve this without being too predictable, which is where Nicole Hayes succeeds. The story centres around Tessa, a teen in a small town that knows all her secrets, who seems to have entered a purple patch, or has she? The story maintains its tension, weaving between past and pre ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't even know where to begin. It's not often you find a book like this: engaging, beautiful, subtle, deeply moving, yet easy to read. "A Shadow's Breath" is a story to be treasured and read over and again. I rate it all the stars. All of them. Every single one. ...more
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fantastic. I really loved the way the 'now' and 'then' stories built and then came together - starting with an event and then filling in not just what led to that but what happens next. Hayes does such a good job of capturing the uncertainty of teens about where and how they fit into the world ...more
- #loveozya
- read in on sitting
- past and present
- well rounded characters
- !!!
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loveozya
Sixteen year old Tessa is conscious, her arm dislocated, bloodied and bruised as the car left the highway that promised a new direction. Nick rests behind the wheel and on a lonely, isolated road in country Victoria, the fragmented debris a contrast to the Australian landscape.

After her father's passing, the darkness emerged. Her mother unable to care for her only child and used alcohol to paralyse her grief while her daughter felt isolated and alone. Alcoholism is an illness that in many cases
Pam Tickner
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
A book club choice. Interesting use of alternating chapters telling the story from the current Now and historical Then. A somewhat bleak coming of age story.
Emily Mead
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary

This was a good read. It's not my favourite of Nicole Hayes', but the switching back and forth between the "then" storyline and the "now" storyline (where the two characters are trying to survive after a car crash) was a really interesting addition.

Tiarna Georghiou
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am lost for words. All I have to say is: Brilliant. Raw. Heartbreaking. Magical. You must read it.
Eleni Hale
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have loved every one of Nicole Hayes’ books. She’s a storyteller of great skill. However with A Shadow’s Breath she takes it to the next level.

I loved the rawness of the characters and the suspense. The gritty reality and the striving for something better. The heartbreak and courage and… that twist! This book is unputdownable. A story about survival that stayed with me ever since.

Whatever you do, make sure you read this book and when you’ve finished you’ll want to look up Nicole Hayes’ other
S.C. Karakaltsas
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Superbly constructed and well written, this novel is a page turner so much so that I was holding my breath toward the end and couldn't put it down. ...more
Steph Cuthbert
My. Heart.
And the ending? Utterly perfect.
I'm in no fit state to write a proper review right now
Catherine Dixon
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
A Shadows Breath is told from the perspective of Tessa 'then' and 'now'. 'Then' things for Tessa's are starting to look up. She meets Nick who is crazy about her, her mum has finally left her abusive boyfriend and is starting a new life of her own as a recovering alcoholic, and she is putting her very public breakdown at school behind her. 'Now' Tessa and Nick are stranded in the wilderness after a car accident. The focus becomes one of immediate survival. But the continuing flashbacks to 'then' ...more
Stef (Noveltea Corner)
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic young adult novel. Cleverly written, heart breaking with twists and turns.
Another incredibly interesting Australian YA novel from Nicole Hayes. A Shadow's Breath is told through both Then and Now narratives. Then tells the story of Tess's complicated relationships with her mother, her best friend, and her boyfriend, as summer and the end of the school year approach. Now tells the story of a horrible car accident involving Tess and Nick, and their attempt to survive their injuries and the harsh Australian bush. There isn't much more I can write without revealing spoile ...more
Sarah Gryfenberg
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful YA novel! I loved the main character, a strong young female that had so many hurdles to climb. A story of love, tragedy and amazing resilience.
Michael Earp
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
When you're desperate for a change at the end of year 12, but that change comes in the form of a car accident in the middle of the bush, what else can you do but take your boyfriend's hand and keep going. Tense, well written YA with a distinctly Australian flavour. And hope, painted like the sunset. ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
My goodness that was an adventure!
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Nicole Hayes is a writer, writing teacher and public speaker based in Melbourne. Her novels include The Whole of My World, longlisted for the 2014 Gold Inky Award and shortlisted for 2014 YABBAs and One True Thing, a CBCA Notable book for 2016 and the winner of the 2015 Children’s Peace Literature Award, and shortlisted for the WA Premier's Literary Award for Young Adult fiction. She co-edited an ...more

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