Review: Try Not to Breathe


In Try Not to Breath once-promising journalist Alex Dale must overcome her demons to find the truth behind a shocking crime that has left a young woman in a coma for 15 years. 

About Try Not to Breathe

Amy Stevenson was the biggest news story of 1995. Only fifteen years old, Amy disappeared walking home from school one day and was found in a coma three days later. Her attacker was never identified and her angelic face was plastered across every paper and nightly news segment.

try not to breathe cover (317 x 475)

Fifteen years later, Amy lies in the hospital, surrounded by 90’s Britpop posters, forgotten by the world until reporter Alex Dale stumbles across her while researching a routine story on vegetative patients.

Remembering Amy’s story like it was yesterday, she feels compelled to solve the long-cold case.

The only problem is, Alex is just as lost as Amy—her alcoholism has cost her everything including her marriage and her professional reputation.

In the hopes that finding Amy’s attacker will be her own salvation as well, Alex embarks on a dangerous investigation, suspecting someone close to Amy.

Told in the present by an increasingly fragile Alex and in dream-like flashbacks by Amy as she floats in a fog of memories, dreams, and music from 1995, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer to a breathtaking conclusion.

My Thoughts on Try Not to Breathe

In Try Not to Breathe, Holly Sedden takes a tired old trope—the alcoholic journalist who’s lost everything—and makes it fresh.

I bought this book when it first came out. To my shame, it languished in my TBR pile until now, largely due to some mixed reviews and a very full reading list. But it is said you should read a book at the right time for you, and boy, am I glad I read this when I did. I loved it!

Sedden has a light but devastating touch with emotion. She lets us feel Alex’s despair at the loss of her ex-husband. We understand why she connects with Amy. And her sometimes ineffectual attempts to find the truth ring true for someone who was once at the top of her game and took it all for granted.

The structure moves between Alex and other key characters and gives insight into each, including Amy. This lifted Amy above being merely a ‘victim’ and balanced out what could have been a bleak tale of an alcoholic in denial had this been told only through Alex’s eyes. While I was confronted by the detail of the physical effects of alcoholism, Alex is likeable because of her flaws.

I admit to being a fan of the cold-case investigation story. Couple that with a few twists that keep me guessing, great characters and a good pace and I’m hooked. Try Not to Breathe didn’t keep me guessing the way most psychological thrillers do, though Sedden did make me second guess a few times, and I loved Alex enough to want to see her journey beyond solving the case.

Try Not to Breathe is the kind of book you don’t want to put down. When I’d finished I didn’t want to read anything else for a while. It is definitely in the top suspense books I’ve read this year.

Buy the Book

About the Author

Holly Seddon writes novels under cover of darkness.

Before she spent my time imagining bad things happening to good people, she worked for numerous national newspapers, magazines and websites.

Read more about Holly Seddon at

Rowena Holloway
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Rowena Holloway

Writer, publisher, blogger at
Rowena Holloway considers herself a reformed academic who discovered fiction writing was preferable to the real world. She indulges her love of suspense fiction by writing novels and short stories about Fractured Families and Killer Secrets. Her novels have been nominated for the Ned Kelly Award and semi-finaled in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and her short stories have been included in several anthologies including the Anthology of Award Winning Australian Writing. She also reviews fiction, interviews fellow writers, and blogs about books and writing.
Rowena Holloway
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