Friday, April 8, 2011

Don't Breathe a Word

Don't Breathe a Word: A NovelDon't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon
ARC provided by Harper Paperbacks in exchange for an honest review
Description 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 faced with a series of eerie, unexplained occurrences that challenge Sam’s hardheaded, realistic view of the world. As they question their reality, a terrible promise Sam made years ago is revealed—a promise that could destroy them all.

My Take:
This was an extremely fast read for me.  I started it as soon as it arrived in the mail and then finished it the next night.  There are so many things I really loved about this book.  To begin with, the author kept me guessing right up to the end of the book on exactly what kind of story this was going to be: is this a fairy story, is this a straight-up mystery, or is it something else? And then there is the creepy factor.  I was rather surprised at just how much this book creeped me out.  I stayed up long after everyone else in the house had gone to bed and was rewarded by being truly creeped out after finishing the book and then having to wander through the old, dark house. Shadows and noises everywhere --- not good after reading Don't Breathe a Word - trust me.

The book tells the stories of Lisa, Phoebe and Sam. Lisa was a little girl who wandered into the woods and disappeared.  This part is told in flashbacks to the past. The story of  Phoebe and her boyfriend Sam, who happens to be Lisa's now grown brother, is told in the present.  The book tells the story of Lisa and Phoebe in a slow and complicated manner that draws the reader into the tale.  There is more than one mystery in the book and many people and events are not as they first appear.  There is a lot of fairy talk -- but not sparkly, beautiful, friendly fairies - these are dark and menacing. The story is full of  family story telling, mysteries, lies, deception, half-truths - none of which are immediately event. Since the copy I read was an uncorrected proof, I don't want to get too specific about anything, but there is much to discuss in this book - particularly the ideas of and symbol of shadows, family relationships, mental illness, and of course, fairy tales. I would recommend this book to mystery lovers and fantasy and fairy tale fans who don't mind the darker side of these tales.

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