Book Review // Her Last Breath by Tracy Buchanan

Book Review // Her Last Breath by Tracy BuchananHer Last Breath by Tracy Buchanan
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Limited on June 19th 2017
Rating: five-stars
Pages: 368
Buy: Hardback/Paperback|Kindle
Find on Goodreads

A girl has gone missing. You've never met her, but you're to blame.


Food writer Estelle Forster has the perfect life. And with her first book on the way, it's about to get even better.

When Estelle hears about Poppy O'Farrell's disappearance, she assumes the girl has simply run away. But Estelle's world crumbles when she's sent a photo of Poppy, along with a terrifying note: I'm watching you. I know everything about you.

Estelle has no idea who's threatening her, or how she's connected to the missing teen, but she thinks the answers lie in the coastal town she once called home, and the past she hoped was long behind her.

Estelle knows she must do everything to find Poppy. But how far will she go to hide the truth - that her

perfect life was the perfect lie?

Her Last Breath is an addictive, page-turning read that fans of Liane Moriarty and Claire Douglas will love.

Her Last Breath is one of those books that grips you from the very start and doesn’t let go until the very last page; the kind of novel where you think you know what’s going on until the author does a complete 360 and you know nothing at all. If you saw my face when I reached the end of the novel, it would just be any baffled gif you look for. I don’t generally get surprised by books as a rule, but man – Tracy Buchanan sure did a number on me there. Like a literal mouth-drop-wide-open moment. Boy, did she go there. Did I like the ending? Well. WEEEEELLLLLLLLL, there’s the question. I mean you read 354 pages, and you feel like you need another 354 pages to sort out everything you’ve just learned. I feel like Estelle’s story isn’t done, it’s almost as if that final page was a beginning, and I’m eager to know more, to see how she goes on, after all of this. I’m not used to standalone books making me feel like that, they’re supposed to wrap everything up in a neat bow, the end.

When I started Her Last Breath, I wasn’t sure I would get on with it – the third person narrative seemed a bit cold, a bit bare, a bit distant, though it actually grew on my pretty quickly. Also, any novel that opens with a meat order being delivered with a polaroid and a message on top of it, is always going to grab my attention, and it was a pretty good way to hook me into the novel completely, because I was like WHAT’S GOING ON. In some ways, it’s another typical story of good girl done good in London ending up back at the home where her life was ruined/stifled/insert a cliche here, but it was actually quite fascinating. There was something about Lillysands that made you feel like you were a voyeur, it was like it wasn’t a normal place that people live, but almost some Stepford-like community, filled with abnormal robots, all programmed to do whatever it takes to keep Lillysands “pure”.

Adding in a missing girl, with a connection to Estelle, and you’ve got a corker of a novel. I genuinely had no idea who was sending the Polaroids/messages, nor where Poppy (the missing girl) actually was. I thought Alice, Estelle’s fellow foster sibling, had come back to life. I was pretty convinced, actually. What made it all so confusing was the sheer amount of people it could have been – Lillysands is like this tight-knit place, where everyone knows everyone, and I was just wary of ALL OF THEM. Even Mr Tate, who was like the sweetest guy, ever. But when you read as much as I do, and you watch TV shows, you’re always waiting for the rug to be pulled from under you, so for every character we met, I was like IS IT YOU? ARE YOU STALKING ESTELLE? DO YOU HAVE POPPY? TELL ME YOUR SECRETS, WENCH. It just made me *SO* paranoid. I can see why Estelle felt like she was cracking up – Lillysands did things to you, I swear.

It’s that ending that gets me, though. Even after all the craziness, all the drama, all the WTFness of the book, that ending was sublime. It was just so unexpected. Had I thought it was that person? Yes, but I had also immediately dismissed it because WHY. But that person actually had good reasons, like jaw-dropping good reasons. Estelle, though. ESTELLE, THOUGH. People hype up unreliable narrators, as if they’re amazing and the best thing since sliced bread (they’re not, fyi, unreliable narrators make me want to throw books at walls, because YOU CAN’T BELIEVE A WORD OF WHAT YOU’RE READING SO WHY BLOODY WELL BOTHER), and yet I never felt Estelle was unreliable. Unstable, for sure. But I pretty much thought she was pretty solid as a character. I trusted her. But this book, man. That ending just exposed SO MUCH. SO MUCH. Her Last Breath was just a brilliant read. Even more so because it was so unexpected for me – I could barely put it down! I was dying to know who was behind everything, and I was certainly not disappointed in that regard. Tracy Buchanan, I bow down to you.


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