Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon

Fifteen years ago, Sam’s sister went missing after she let select family know that she was leaving to become the Queen of the Faeries. Now, Sam and his girlfriend Phoebe are pulled back into the mysterious disappearance and are left to grapple with the possibility that there is a Faerie King out there.

This is one of the absolute worst things I have ever read. This is an excerpt – a real excerpt, I am not making this up: “It’s quiet. Too quiet. Phoebe doesn’t hear a single bird or mosquito” (10). This was only ten pages into the book, and it was an omen of things to come. McMahon tries to be deep by leaving the existence of a faerie world open to one’s interpretation of her novel. However, the novel is so utterly shit-tastic that it does not leave the reader with a burning desire to interpret anything.

I frequently suffered intense headaches from Don’t Breathe a Word, brought on by the excessive need to roll my eyes. Speaking of eyes, Sam’s “were the color of chocolate with the most amazing eyelashes she’d ever seen on a man” (22).  The writing itself is enough of an offense, but the plot points are downright ridiculous. Although I dozed in and out of consciousness throughout the book, from what I can gather, the Faerie King is actually a secret cousin of Lisa (the missing girl). For some reason, no one was told that this cousin was born, so he was kept locked away until he needed Lisa brought to him and also another random girl so that McMahon can fit rape, incest, and kidnapping into a story that may or may not be about actual faeries.

I’m not sure why people seem to think that sexual crimes against young girls automatically make a story scary. It’s as if McMahon knew that she was getting to the end of the novel, and this awkward detail was her way of trying to legitimize her work. I can hear the thought process – “ahhh….now I’ll throw in a dash of random sexual deviancy, because that’s what serious authors do!” Sexual deviancy should only be funny in Will Ferrell movies, and if it generate laughter in a novel intended to be frightening, then there is a serious, serious problem.


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