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Don't Breathe a Word: A Novel

Don't Breathe a Word: A Novel

3.7 198
by Jennifer McMahon

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Don’t Breathe a Word is a haunting page-turner that kept me up, spine shivering and enthralled, way past my bedtime.”
—Joshilyn Jackson, author of Gods in Alabama and Backseat Saints

“Jennifer McMahon never flinches and never fails to surprise…as [she] weaves a young couple into a perverse


Don’t Breathe a Word is a haunting page-turner that kept me up, spine shivering and enthralled, way past my bedtime.”
—Joshilyn Jackson, author of Gods in Alabama and Backseat Saints

“Jennifer McMahon never flinches and never fails to surprise…as [she] weaves a young couple into a perverse fairyland where Rosemary’s Baby could be at home.”
—Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer’s Daughters

Two young lovers find themselves ensnared in a seemingly supernatural web that ties them to a young girl’s disappearance fifteen years earlier in this dark and twisty tale from the New York Times bestselling author of Island of Lost Girls and Promise Not to Tell. Jennifer NcMahon returns with a vengeance with Don’t Breathe a Word—an absolutely chilling and ingenious combination of psychological thriller, literary suspense, and paranormal page-turner that will enthrall a wildly diverse audience including, among others, avid fans of Keith Donohue (The Stolen Child), Laura Lippman (I’d Know You Anywhere), and Tana French.(In the Woods).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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 strange phone call that leads him and his girlfriend, Phoebe, to discover a book, supposedly written by the King of the Fairies, that Lisa used as her bible to cross over, and which prompts Sam and Phoebe to meet up with Sam's cousin, Evie, to see if they can figure out what happened to Lisa. Nothing is as it seems from that moment on, and Phoebe's longtime fear of a dark man in the shadows seeps back after she discovers, in true woo-woo fashion, that she is pregnant. McMahon (Promise Not to Tell) alternates between the past and present with loads of portent and foreshadowing, creating a rural Vermont chiller with a Rosemary's Baby vibe, but even after a surprising villainess emerges and more than a few disquieting passages about Lisa are burned through, many readers will remain in the dark. (May)
Library Journal
A young girl disappears in the woods one summer night. The only clue to her whereabouts rests with her brother and her cousin, who never reveal what they know because to them it seems crazy—another one of her wild imaginings. The King of the Fairies was coming to take her away, she told them. And so, it would seem, he did. But 15 years later, Sam Nazzaro has grown up and moved on with his life when he receives word from his long-lost sister. She is back, and the Fairy King wants to make good on old promises, she says, to take what belongs to him. At first Sam is disbelieving, but soon he and his girlfriend, Phoebe, find themselves wrapped up in a sinister plot, no longer knowing what is real and what is imagined. VERDICT McMahon's (Dismantled) latest literary thriller seems designed to keep readers guessing, but with an overly complex plot and excess of characters, the thrill of suspense is lost amid confusion and frustrating loose ends. Only for the author's fans.—Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Jennifer McMahon is the author of Dismantled, the New York Times bestseller Island of Lost Girls, and the breakout debut novel Promise Not to Tell. She lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella.

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Don't Breathe a Word 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 198 reviews.
Amanda18 More than 1 year ago
First off the book is written from two different perspectives: phoebe, present day and Lisa, fifteen years ago detailing the days just before she disappeared. I enjoyed this format very much. I also liked the weaving of fairy tales and real life it makes the reader question what is real and what is not, and what's really going on beneath the surface of all the characters and their lives. I loved how scary this book was. I read the first half off and on for a few nights before bed (i'm surprised and proud I was brave enough to fall asleep!)and then the second half all at once today. its a really good creepy/heart racing goose bump causing book that's best read in one sitting so you get lost in it and can't put it down. I would definitely recommend it if you want an escape that is mysterious and creepy but doesnt exactly have a happy ending...or any ending at all really :P (leaves you with some questions to figure out for yourself) I'll definitely read another one of hers.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
Fifteen years ago, 12-year old Lisa who is obsessed with fairies, disappears. Jump to now; having received new information, her brother Sam and his girlfriend Phoebe try to track her down. Jumping back through both time periods, we learn of Lisa's obsession with the King of Fairies, and the secrets hidden with Sam's family. Did Lisa find the land of the fairies or is it something more sinister? Was this a fantasy book or a mystery? I guess you could say a little of both. I had trouble getting into the story, but once Sam makes some headway into his sister's disappearance I enjoyed it more. The ending left me wondering, what was the author trying to say? I was somewhat frustrated.
mycatjake More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed her other book, "Dismantled" so I decided I'd read this one. I'm a huge fan of mysteries and this one will keep you guessing! Jennifer McMahon has become one of my favorite writers because just when you think you've got it figured out, you don't. Some people didn't like the references to fairies, but I think its a breath of fresh air in a typical crime mystery. PS: Just a side note; I live in Vermont (which is where the author is from) and have to say that the Lord's Prayer Rock DOES exist. I used to ride by it every day on my way to school. Might add a little extra spook factor for you :)
Peanut61 More than 1 year ago
You start out really liking some of the characters and being intrigued by the mystery of the fairytale surrounding their childhood. You become more involved as you attempt to puzzle out what is real and what was childhood memories gone wacky. Then you lose patience with the characters and the author as the storyline becomes more convoluted and hopelessly entangled in an unbelievable mess at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Jennifer McMahon's other books and absolutely loved them. This book, however, was one major dissapointment. From the clumsy characters to the sloppy and hard to follow plot, it seems like Ms. McMahon should stay out of the silly fairy world and stick to her "real world" story-telling.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
What a twisted, crazy weird story. The synopsis reeled me in hoping for a story about a girl that goes missing and her brother who is finding clues 15 years later. This may have ben the underlying premise of the story, but the inclusion of a weird fairy story that has been passed down from former generations made for a weird book that I couldn't put down. I flipped page to page to find out how the story all fit together, but I was definitely disappointed by the inclusion of this weird underlying story of a fairy land. Short and sweet this time - a good book in the mystery aspect, but I definitely did not enjoy all the fairy talk. I would only recommend this book to those who enjoy the supernatural and the mystery.
Lovergrrl More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I could not put it down. And when I wasn't reading it, I was definitely thinking about it! It gave me the creeps! I love that it was a mystery yet Jennifer McMahon worked in the fairy/paranormal aspect into it.
rubysliperz More than 1 year ago
A total page turner I was hoping I could finish it before my plane landed (I did). Totally different than anything I have read in a while. Told from two different places and times even when you can see the two times/places collide, you don't know what's going to happen. This book combines the supernatural and the creepiness of the real world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I expected a much better book from reading the synopsis however, this book was a complete waste of my time. It should be listed as Paranormal fiction. Would not reccomend it and will not read other books by the author. Disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. My first book by this author and i will definately read more. I enjoyed the telling of events from past to present. Ending leaves you hanging but in a good, suspensful way. I would recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was good at first but then the ending was awful. Not anything like I thought it would be from the description that was given by the author. I was very disappointed.
usn-retired More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be repetitious, poor story line and not entertaining. I figured out the story line in the first 2-3 chapters and the ending lacking. I read it all the way through just because I bought it. Also several misspelled word or missing words.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just when you stopped being scared of what is under the bed... Wow. This was definitely a page turner. The blend between reality and fantasy is pretty good. Just when you think you KNOW, you don't' know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great novel many people said that this book sucked but I really thoight that it was a good page turner thriller that really told great but terrifing story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Odd story, well written and peaked my interest through till the very end. I enjjoy this authors amazing creativity.
Silva16 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. There are elements of the supernatural, sure, as well as psychological, fatalistic, and whodunnit. The pace is fast and the writing unpredictable. I haven't read anything else by this author, and while this book did not make me want to rush out and buy her whole collection, I certainly would be interested in picking up another by her casually in the future just the same.
lovetoreadMI More than 1 year ago
This is the 3rd book I have read by Jennifer McMahon and definitely the best, although i have really liked all of them. Near the end of the book I kept thinking "what?? what about this? what about that?" and then WOW. You will be surprised. Read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very deep story! Just when you think you have it all figured out the plot thickens. Are you ready to wrap your head around a new type of thriller? Chew on this one for a while and prepare yourself for one twost after the next! Good luck and enjoy the ride!
Gabriella_Dawn More than 1 year ago
This book was angry read that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I could not put the book down once I started. I loved the integration of the Wet and present between chapters and loved how real the faires seemed to be. The characters were real and relatable and I loved how the book was dark and edgy. Truly a great read
delandora More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was fun, kinda creepy, and an all around good read. The story is set up in mostly two POVs: Lisa's from 15 years ago, leading up to her disappearance, and Phoebe's in the present as she and her boyfriend, Sam (Lisa's younger brother) try to discover the mystery behind Lisa's disappearance. I absolutely loved this set up. This was definitely a story that was difficult to put down. If you like mystery AND paranormal, you'll like this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down! The story was so well written. I cannot wait to read more of Jennifer McMahon's books!
Anonymous 9 months ago
Captured me from page 1 and never let go.
Book_and_recipe_Examiner 11 months ago
Teilo. The fairy-king. A story that Phoebe had been told as a child, something that her alcoholic mother had believed in until her death, in a bathtub of water surrounded by iron and other objects repellent to the fairy world. And there is a legend that says, in a town called Reliance, an entire village mysteriously disappeared one day. There, Phoebe knows, her boyfriend Sam's sister, Lisa, also mysteriously disappeared when she was 12 years old. She believed in fairies, in Teilo, and that he would come take her away with him. But what really happened to Lisa fifteen years ago, and what is the connection between that and Sam's strange cousin Evie who knows more than she's letting on? Partly written from Lisa’s perspective, and partly pieced together by Phoebe fifteen years later, Don't Breathe a Word is an equally exciting and terrifying tale for anyone who's ever believed in a fairy world, or the dark shadow man who lurks behind doors and at the corners of our vision. For discussion questions, similar recommended readings, and a themed recipe of Strawberry Cupcakes with Hot Fudge Frosting, visit: http://hub.me/akzln
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully creepy! Really enjoyed reading it and would reccomend this author.