Book Review: Scared to Breathe by Kerena Swan (Bloodhound Books)

June 20, 2019justabelfastgirl


I’ve had a bit of an insane two weeks with personal matters that I am unable to talk about, even on my own blog as they pertain to friends of mine and not myself. I’m so behind on publishing my review, so I’d like to say a big sorry to Bloodhound Books and the authors of the books where reviews are due.


This book was gifted to me by Bloodhound Books for the sole purpose of an honest review of the book. This post is not sponsored by Bloodhound Books, nor is it sponsored by the author, Kerena Swan. All comments on this review are my own.

This post will also contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small portion of the sale of the book if you choose to purchase it using my link.

Book Synopsis

Book Review: Scared to Breathe by Kerena Swan (Bloodhound Books)
Photo Credit: Bloodhound Books

When Tasha witnesses a stabbing at the train station in Luton, she is compelled to give evidence in court that leads to Dean Rigby being convicted. But when Lewis, Dean’s brother, vows revenge, Tasha is afraid and no longer feels safe in her own home.

Tasha’s partner, Reuben, hopes to marry her and start a family soon. But Reuben is concerned about Tasha’s state of mind and urges her to see a doctor.

When Tasha is left a derelict country house by her birth father, she sees an opportunity to escape Luton and start a new life. After visiting Black Hollow Hall she sees it as the perfect opportunity to live a life without fear.

At first, Tasha feels liberated from her troubles. The gardener, William, who is partially paralysed but employed to maintain the grounds of Black Hollow Hall, is welcoming.

But soon Tasha realises the Hall is not quite the idyll she imagined.

When she discovers that a woman jumped to her death there years ago following the murder of her husband, strange events begin to take place and Tasha fears for her safety.

Have the Rigby family found her?

Is someone trying to scare her into selling the house?

Or is she suffering from paranoia as Reuben suggests?  

As Tasha’s sanity is put under pressure she begins to wonder if Black Hollow Hall going to be her salvation or her undoing…

About the Author

Book Review: Scared to Breathe by Kerena Swan (Bloodhound Books)
Photo Credit: Kerena Swan Twitter

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 fulfil 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.

Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, in the UK 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 Kerena Swan and join her mailing list.

Author’s Social Media & Amazon Page

My Thoughts

Book Review: Scared to Breathe by Kerena Swan (Bloodhound Books)
Photo Credit: Bloodhound Books

I know I keep saying this, but I LOVED this! As someone with a Social Work background, I was immediately drawn to Kerena’s novel as I wanted to see if any of this was incorporated, not very often you come across anything social services related in a psychological thriller, have you noticed that?

This book has THRILLER all over it and I loved the gothic style suspense involved in it as it’s not something I come across very often. It’s set in the U.K and mentions the haunting Cotswold manor (pictured below) which Kerena describes as if you are standing right in front of it. This is a unique writing style, many people can match characters, but it can be very difficult to nail surroundings.

Book Review: Scared to Breathe by Kerena Swan (Bloodhound Books)
Cotswold Manor – This is only the manor, you should see the estate! Photo credit: Mansions Global

The friendship between Tasha, Bob and Bob’s dog, Bonnie is endearing and you can relate to some of the discussions they have. 

I don’t like giving spoilers, but this really was a book to make you think, Are you safe?” “Are you being paranoid?”, “Is something wrong with you?”, or “Is it all in your head?Don’t even get me started on Reuben!

Kerena has another book called, Dying to See You which I am going to add to my “to read” as if Scared to Breathe is anything to go by, then I’m sure Dying to See You will be just as incredible.

What’s the Score?

Book Review: Murderland by Pamela Murray (Bloodhound Books)

Book Review: He's At Your Door by Alex Sinclair


I mean… holy crap! I 1000% recommend you go and purchase this book from Amazon as it’s brilliant! I am actually going to purchase the hard copy in a few days.

Where can you Purchase the Book?

Special Thank You

I’d like to say a special thank you to Bloodhound Books/Bombshell Book Publishing and the author Kerena Swan for gifting me this book. It was such a good read and I was sucked in from beginning to finish.

If you haven’t read my previous review on the amazingly talented Pamela Murray’s debut psychological thriller, Murderland, you can find it, here.

Book Review: Scared to Breathe by Kerena Swan (Bloodhound Books)
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My Review

If there is one thing this Ginger Book Geek likes, it is discovering new authors and Kerena Swan is certainly a new author to me.  Having read ‘Scared To Breathe’, I cannot believe that I have not discovered her sooner.  I blooming well loved reading ‘Scared To Breathe’ but more about that in a bit.

I didn’t find it that hard to warm to Tasha in the beginning and in fact we have a fair bit in common.  For starters we are both only children.  Secondly both her parents and my parents tried to add to the family numbers but it was sadly not to be.  Thirdly, as a result of their struggles to have even one child Tasha’s parents are extremely protective and possibly they are even over protective.  The same happened to me.  Fourthly as a result of our respective upbringings we think of the outside world as full of danger.  Fifthly we are both paranoid.  See I told you we had things in common.  I could totally understand where Tasha was coming from when she doesn’t feel that safe travelling on a train late at night on her own as I used to travel home from university lateish on at night and it always used to make me feel nervous.  Tasha wishes a horrendous incident and she helps to save the victim of an attempted mugging.  At the same time she takes notice of the attacker and she provides a good description.  The police make an arrest and the matter goes to court where the attacker is sent to prison for a few years.  Tasha is scared of reprisals from the attacker’s family and she becomes even more paranoid and scared of her own shadow.  Again I could totally understand as I know I would feel the same in similar circumstances.  Tasha is left a house in the country by her birth father and she sees it as her chance to escape from Luton and her troubles.  But is the new house all that it appears to be?  Well for the answers to that question and so much more you are just going to have to read the book for yourselves to find out as I am not going to tell you.

Oh my word, ‘Scared To Breathe’ was one hell of a read and then some.  To say that reading ‘Scared To Breathe’ is addictive reading has to be the understatement of the year.  From the moment I picked the book up I was under the book’s spell and I just knew that I wouldn’t be able to put the book down and so it proved to be.  The more I read, the further into the story I got and the quicker the pages seemed to be turning.  I couldn’t get enough of the book.  I binge read the book over the course of a day, even going to the extent of making excuses as to why I couldn’t do anything else but read.  Normally I have the attention span of a gnat and I am easily distracted but not with ‘Scared To Breathe’.  My sole focus was on the story and on the story alone.  It didn’t take me long to get through the story.

‘Scared To Breathe’ is brilliantly written.  The author used to work for Social Services and I believe that she has used some of her experiences from her long career within Social Services within the book.  I mean I used to work for Social Services too, but nothing as admirable as a social worker, and some of the stories I came across were horrific and far worse than anything in any book.  Kerena certainly knows how to grab your attention from the start and she draws you into the story from the first word onward.  I felt compelled (in a nice way) to keep reading to see how the story panned out and what the future held for Tasha.  It was as if the book had cast a spell over me and I wasn’t released from the book’s grip until I got to the end of the book.  Kerena certainly knows how to keep your attention all the way throughout the book.  As I previously said, I felt that I identified with Tasha to a degree and so that helped to make the story feel that bit more realistic.  I found that I had begun to interact with the book.  Yes before anybody says it, I know this is a work of fiction but if I enjoy a book to the extent I enjoyed ‘Scared To Breathe’ then I tend to ‘live’ the story as if it were real.

Reading ‘Scared To Breathe’ was much like being on a rather scary and unpredictable rollercoaster ride with more twists and turns than you would find on a Snakes & Ladders board.  The story was a bit creepy too.  There were times when I almost had to read through my fingers as I dreaded what was going to happen next.  Then I would give my head a shake as I had to read on if I wanted to find out how the story ended.

In short I totally and utterly flipping well loved reading ‘Scared To Breathe’ and I would definitely recommend this book to other readers.  I can’t wait to read what Kerena comes up with next but whilst I wait I will definitely be reading her first book called ‘Dying To See You’.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.


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Book Review: Murderland by Pamela Murray (Bloodhound Books)

June 19, 2019

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