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  • Writer's pictureCaitlyn Lynch

Book Review: Hold Your Breath by B.P. Walter

33 years ago, Kitty’s father drove her and her mother away from their quiet suburban life to an isolated cottage in the middle of a forest. Only 10 at the time, Kitty was angry and resentful, but aware on some level that her father was desperate, because her mother is obviously seriously mentally ill. Met by Amanda, a psychologist, and her father, a priest (I think… it’s never precisely clear if this is a role being played) the adults try varied ‘therapies’ to help, some of which Kitty witnesses and are obviously deeply distressing and traumatic for such a young child.

(All the trigger warnings, by the way. Seriously, this book needs so many trigger warnings I don’t even know where to start. Parts of it verge over into horror, so… approach with caution).

In the present day, Kitty, now using the name Katherine, has written a book, ostensibly fiction but claiming it is in large part a memoir based in real experiences… and in this book she all but accuses her father and Amanda, now her stepmother, of murder. But it seems Katherine isn’t the most reliable of narrators, and it’s not at all clear whether this is deliberate or the malfunctioning memory of a troubled, frightened child.

Whatever the case, I could never get past the fact that Kitty was 10 at the time of the events. Scared and traumatised, it’s ridiculous that she might for a moment be held culpable and frankly, she should have consulted a lawyer who would have made that absolutely clear to her from the beginning.

The writing is superb, the portrayal of a woman sinking deep into paranoid delusions and her husband desperately trying to keep her from being institutionalised almost painful to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and found it quite gripping, but I have to say I felt pretty let down by the ending. I like all the major plot threads to be tied off and there are far too many left open here. Four stars for a great read that just doesn’t quite finish things off properly.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.

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