Natasha Hargreaves, our protagonist, is thirty-two years old who works as a greeting card designer. She lives in a small, modest house with her fiance Reuben. Her life is turned upside down when she witnesses a stabbing on the way home from the city. She gives evidence at trial and is threatened by the criminal’s brother. She never feels truly safe in her waking hours, and her nights are plagued by nightmares.
Natasha is adopted and never knew her birth family. She receives a letter from a solicitor that tells her she has inherited a derelict, Grade II listed manor house in the Cotswolds, along with the ten acres of land it sits on. She sees this windfall as a blessing on two fronts. She gets to escape the threat she lives under, AND, she now has some independence and is a land owner. Along with the manor house, she has been bequeathed money to carry out some much needed renovations.
Tasha immediately falls in love with the old place. Her fiance, Reuben, doesn’t like living at Black Hollow Hall. It is too isolated for his liking, and he misses his family and friends. A rift develops between Natasha and Reuben, seeing him going off for days at a time for work, while she stays at the Hall to oversee the workmen. She begins to doubt his commitment to her.
It would seem that Natasha’s idyll is not what she dreamed it would be. Strange and sinister occurrences cause her to become even more frightened than she was before. She learns a little of the history of her family in the house, only to find that their lives there were not happy ones…
“Fear is my whole world now”
As events turn more and more sinister, Natasha doesn’t know who to trust, doubting even herself. Some of the workmen’s tools go missing, the lights fail, orders are cancelled for building materials, a headless dead rat is left on her doorstep, a workman is injured. All these things work cumulatively on Tasha’s psyche.
She is alone, isolated, and has sketchy phone reception. Danger lurks…
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was a perfect blend of psychological thriller and gothic suspense – written in a way that held me spellbound throughout.
The setting, the beautiful old Cotswold manor, was well described. I could picture every nook and cranny of the house and grounds.
The characters were written sympathetically, causing the reader to become invested in the story-line and the protagonist’s experiences. I particularly enjoyed reading about Tasha’s friendship with the octogenarian Bob and his dog, Bonnie.
Kerena Swan is a ‘new to me‘ author, but I plan to follow her work in further novels. A suspense-filled thriller, “Scared to Breathe” is a book I can, and will, highly recommend.
Kerena Swan trained as a Social Worker and worked for Social Services for over 25 years. For the past 14 years she has owned and managed an ‘outstanding’ rated care agency for children with disabilities. Following serious illnesses she decided to fulfill her long-held ambition of writing a book and getting it published. ‘Dying to See You’, published by Bloodhound Books, was her debut novel.
After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration and deep joy of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer. She has recently completed her second novel ‘Scared to Breathe’ which is being released on 3rd June 2019 by Bloodhound Books.
Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, England and her books are set in the surrounding areas.
Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience of the problematic world of social work and social studies, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir and crime genre.
If you would like to hear more about new releases, read Kerena’s blogs and download a free short-story – the prequel to Dying to See You – then visit https://www.kerenaswan.com.uk and join her mailing list.
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