Book #5 of 2023

Amy McCulloch
Pub: May 3, 2022
343 pages 

Cecily Wong is about to ascend one of the highest peaks of the world, Manaslu. After publishing “Failure to Rise”, her viral article about her failure as a mountaineer, Charles McVeigh invites her to accompany him and his team on the final leg of his record-breaking summit climbs. She has lost her boyfriend, her money, and most of her self confidence on her way into Manaslu.

It quickly becomes evident that not everything is as it should be. After a mysterious accident, Cecily begins to wonder if this trip is purely a mountaineer expedition or something more sinister.  This fast paced, thriller will have you flying through this novel.

What I Enjoyed
Breathless is like nothing else I’ve read before. A thriller set on the backdrop of a mountain climbing expedition kept you engaged in mystery and interested in the actual sport itself.  I knew pretty much nothing about climbing a mountain so I really enjoyed the information surrounding ascending to the summit. 

While the cast of characters was larger than I expected, they were unique enough to keep everyone straight. Cecily’s friends on the mountain were easy to love and become invested in, but well contrasted with some antagonists that were easy to despise.

What Could Have Been Better
The mystery in this novel was unfortunately the weakest point. What you saw is what you got. There wasn’t much guessing and only one reveal that I hadn’t figured out prior to it happening. It felt like we were being hit over the head with the same clues.

I struggle with this….but I also found Cecily somewhat annoying. Her lack of self confidence felt childish at times, but it was also a driving theme in the story itself.

Final Recommendation
Read this novel if you love sports based novels and are willing to learn more about the culture of the mountaineering world. I would not go in expecting a mystery with tons of information to piece together. This would be perfect as a popcorn thriller to take on vacation with you, especially on a ski trip or in a cabin over the winter holidays.


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