Hold Your Breath by B.P. Walter #BookReview #BlogTour

If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise…

 Kitty Marchland has always known that her family aren’t like others. But when her father uproots them to a remote cottage in the woods, she realises that her parents are keeping secrets from her – secrets that could unravel everything.

 Years later, Kitty starts to question what really happened out in the forest. When the police revisit a suspicious death, she must examine her most painful memories – and this time, there’s nowhere to hide…

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Hold Your Breath today. Many thanks to B.P. Walter and Sanjana from Avon Books for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

It's often said that the act of writing can be cathartic and in Hold Your Breath, it's becomes obvious why Katherine - or Kitty - Marchland should have taken the decision to write about her deeply troubling experience in a remote cottage in Northumberland when she was just ten years old. She published it as fiction but as the book starts, the adult Katherine is facing questions about what really happened and as the narrative switches between past and present, the truth turns out to be horrifying.
The chapters written from young Kitty's perspective capture the voice of a rather precocious, lonely young girl superbly. Suddenly uprooted from her home after watching her mother's mental health decline over time, she frequently tests her father's patience, clearly desperate for some attention, however negative. Although she behaves badly at times, I really felt for Kitty and not just because of the appalling scenes she witnesses. She is constantly expected to entertain herself and when she attempts to question the reasons behind their sudden move or what is being done to her mother, she is given short shrift. Her father doesn't come out of the story well although there are glimpses of humanity within him and at least some suggestion that he realises what they are doing is morally wrong.
One of the things I enjoyed most about Hold Your Breath was the suggestion of sinister paranormal interference and together with the local folklore regarding a witch, there are parts of the story which are really quite chilling. I don't want to give too much away about what is done to Kitty's mother, Marjory, other than to say that when they are joined by Father Tobias and his adult daughter, Amanda, there are some scenes which are closer to horror than to a straightforward crime novel. This certainly isn't a book for anybody who is upset by graphic descriptions and mentions of mental illness, rape and child abuse. It's necessarily shocking however, as what Kitty experiences here helps to explain why she eventually behaves as she does.
Until the latter chapters of the book, the sections featuring Katherine as an adult mostly serve to connect her current predicament with her childhood memories and it's a device that works well, seamlessly linking the past and present. When it becomes apparent that a tragedy occurred in the forest, the tension steadily grows and although we know who, there is a dark sense of foreboding as to exactly how events culminate in a death. As the novel progresses, it is implied that Kitty may be an unreliable narrator but what the unsettling ramifications of this mean aren't divulged until late in the story, by which time my sympathies were  still mostly with her - or at least the vulnerable child she once was  - even though there is a chance she hasn't told the full truth in her account of that terrible period in her life.
Cleverly incorporating elements of the supernatural,  Hold Your Breath is creepy and disturbing crime fiction. With a well-paced and gritty plot, perceptive characterisation and satisfying conclusion, I read this gripping novel in a day. This is the first book I've read by B.P. Walter but it won't be the last.

Hold Your Breath is published by Avon Books, purchasing links can be found here or if possible, particularly during this difficult time, please try to order from one of our wonderful independent bookstores if you can.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

B P Walter was born and raised in Essex. After spending his childhood and teenage years reading compulsively, he worked in bookshops then went to the University of Southampton to study Film and English followed by an MA in Film & Cultural Management. He is an alumnus of the Faber Academy and works as the Social Media Coordinator for Waterstones.

Aside from writing, reading and tweeting about books for a living, he can usually be found rearranging his ever-growing book collection (every corner of the house is buried under paperbacks) and Instagramming pictures of the titles he’s currently enjoying.
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