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"The dangerous part about asking questions in life was not being ready for the answers."  —The Breathless

The Breathless

by Tara Goedjen

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Ro’s body was found lifeless on the beach. No one knows what happened. All they know is that Ro’s boyfriend, Cage, disappeared the same day and hasn’t been seen since. The mystery behind her death turned Blue Gate Manor into a house of sadness and secrets.

One year later, Cage shows up looking for Ro with no memory of anything that happened in the last year. His confusion only adds to the mystery of Ro’s death because even though he was the last person to be seen with her, he has no idea how she died or if he caused her death. Ro’s sister, Mae, doesn’t trust him, but she decides that helping Cage is the only way to find out what happened to her sister.

Then Mae finds a little green book that belonged to Ro. She hopes the book will unlock the secrets behind Ro’s death. As she follows clues in the book, she discovers her family is hiding a dark secret about her ancestors. Danger lurks around every corner as Mae hunts for answers that might be better left undiscovered.

The very first sentence of The Breathless grabs the reader’s attention and never lets go. Graphic descriptions bring this creepy Gothic tale to life. Full of magic, love, and loss, The Breathless is a captivating story that will give sensitive readers a fright they will not soon forget. This is not a good book to read for those who are prone to nightmares.

Sexual Content

  • Cage is watching a girl on the beach. The girl, “licks her fingertips before she turns the page and he wants to be that book.”
  • While sleeping, Ro’s boyfriend thinks about a time when she “pulls him down next to her and leans into him, all oil and legs and her red bikini top loose. He holds his breath as she unties her top, lets it fall.” He wraps his arms around her in the dream and then wakes up.
  • One of the characters is in love with a girl and they kiss. “She leans forward and kisses him and his stomach drops and then the world drops way until her lips finally leave his.”
  • When Mae starts to cry, Cage hugs her. Then he thinks about kissing her. “He was going to kiss her, it was all he wanted, and the next thing he knew she was pulling out of his arms, and stepping back.”
  • When Cage is burning with fever, Mae undresses him. When she goes to take off his pants he said, “Mae, we can’t.” She replies, “Cage, that’s not what I’m doing.”


  • Cage wakes up in a hospital, unsure of why he is there. He climbs out a window to escape. When a security guard tries to stop him, Cage hits the man. “His fist collided with the man’s face. The security guard crumpled to the ground.”
  • Elle points a rifle at Cage. At first, Elle thinks she hit her sister when she fires because “The house was bleeding. Thick, dark red droplets were splattered across the floor.” However, Elle only shot the red polish in Mae’s pocket.
  • Grady’s girlfriend, the “witch’s” daughter, has his child. When Grady’s father discovers Grady’s secret, the father sets the house on fire and Grady’s girlfriend dies. Then Grady kills his father with an ax. “The first thud makes his ears ring, and they’re still ringing as he drags his father’s body from the house . . . He feels like his lungs are going black, his heart too. But there’s no stopping now.”
  • Elle hits a deer with her car. Mae “knelt down beside the deer, taking its head in her hands, watching its lungs going fast as it panted, a shard of glass in its neck. Its heartbeat thudded against her, echoed inside her, fainter and fainter . . . The deer’s blood was slick in her hands and she stared at the shards of glass in its neck.”
  • One of the characters tries to raise Ro from the dead. In order to complete the ritual, he drugged his sister and then put her into a lake to drown. She is saved. Later the character intends to kill her so she can’t tell anyone what he did, but “he realized he couldn’t do it. Not when she was blinking up at him, asking questions.”
  • Mae’s father shoots Cage. “And then came the blast that thundered in his ears and he was falling, the gravel rising up in front of him. . .”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Mae’s father often drinks whiskey.
  • In a flashback, Ro is smoking a cigarette. “It’s slender and smells of cloves.”
  • A character steals pills from his mother’s supply and gives them to his sister.
  • When Cage is on his way to see his mother, he doesn’t want to . . . “meet her new boyfriend but what he really doesn’t want to see are those pill bottles of hers, the way they make her angry. She’s angry that she’s sick, always has been.”


  • “Shit” is used often throughout the book by several different characters. In one scene, Mae’s father said that there are “plenty of pieces of shit around these days.”
  • “Hell” is used several times. When Mae is caught spying on her sister, Elle says, “What the hell, Mae.”
  • Mae’s father says “goddamn” several times. One time he swore when he almost hit a girl with his truck.


  • The story revolves around Mae trying to understand a book that Ro had owned. The book has several spells, including one to bring back the dead. “Besides the raising ritual, there were other spells: some for curses, some for love, so many she hadn’t been able to get through them yet.”
  • Mae finds a room that has jars of animals used for rituals. In one jar “chunks of a hairlike substance were at the bottom. Floating inside the jar was a pale cat skull.” Another jar had a bird claw and a horse’s hoof. “Bits of tissue swirled into the murky water, and long dark hair was layered at the bottom. . . A hank of what looked like the horse’s dark mane fluttered at the bottom, next to bone.”
  • Mae remembers a time when her sister tried a ritual. When her sister turned around, “her dress had been a different color. . . Dark, dark red, steaked with blood.”
  • Mae discovers that the raising ritual requires the payment of a “human life for human life.”
  • A “witch” and her family live nearby. They use a ritual that can bring the dead back to life.

Spiritual Content

  • None
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"The dangerous part about asking questions in life was not being ready for the answers."  —The Breathless

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