Title: Out of Breath
Author: Anna Snoekstra
Published: July 6th 2022
Publisher: HQ Fiction AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller, Psychological
Rating: 4 stars
A compulsive, nail-bitingly tense psychological thriller that takes its readers deep into the heart of a seemingly idyllic intentional community – that proves to be anything but…For readers of Anna Downes’ The Safe Place and Sarah Bailey’s The Housemate.
‘Out of Breath is impossible to put down. Electrifying, atmospheric and thrilling with characters that will stay with you. It raises so many questions about belonging, the nature of trauma and the power of community to both heal and destroy.’ – Eliza Henry-Jones, author of Ache
Jo Ainsley has been running for a long time. From her childhood in small town England to art school in London to the messy end of a relationship in Sydney, Jo has chosen to run again and again, each time moving further from where her troubles began.
This time, her escape will bring her to the remote northwest region of Western Australia, where she must work for 88 days on a farm in order to extend her visa. There she meets an American, Gabe, with whom she has an immediate connection. He tells her of an idyllic off-grid community which seems like a refuge to her. Miserable, desperate and traumatised by a brutal event at the farm, Jo decides to run.
But the paradisal free-diving haven that embraces her without judgement is not all it seems. It harbours some sinister secrets – and so does Gabe. Jo searches for answers, but is she prepared for what she uncovers? She must decide where her loyalties lie and if she is really ready to confront the darkness of her past…
‘Out of Breath is a dream of a novel: intelligent, captivating, deeply-felt and thrilling, with a setting to lose yourself in. I both tore through the pages, desperate to find out what happens, and languished in the story, never wanting it to end. Wonderful.’ Anna Downes, author of The Safe Place.
Melbourne based writer Anna Snoekstra makes her mark on the psychological suspense genre with her new title Out of Breath. Dark, edgy, uncertain and dicey, Out of Breath is an unapparelled thriller that will seduce psychological fiction readers.
Following principal character Jo Ainsley, a young woman with a troubled past, Out of Breath tracks this damaged woman’s life. We learn that Jo has left of trail of broken relationships as she has moved from one difficult life to another. Now Jo has a remote location in Western Australia in her sights, as she works to keep her travel visa. At a farm in outback WA, Jo encounters an enigmatic man named Gabe. As soon as Gabe and Jo cross paths sparks seem to fly. Gabe entices Jo to join an off-grid community set, which seems to appeal to this broken young woman, who is desperately seeking direction. But soon after Jo’s arrival at the off-grid site, she realises this place is not what it seems. Underneath the source of this safe haven are deeply entrenched secrets. Jo must go on a quest to uncover the truth, which will take her to places she doesn’t want to go. Jo must consider her moral compass and dig deep into her past as the truth is slowly revealed. Can Jo move on from the darkness that sits by her side?
It looks like I have read three out the four books that have been penned by Anna Snoekstra. Out of Breath is Snoekstra’s latest release and it is a novel that fits very snugly into the psychological thriller genre. Filled with plenty of slow burn style tension and a dense atmosphere, Out of Breath is a distinctive read.
Off-grid communities and cults have always been a source of curiosity for me. As this mode of living is completely juxtaposed to my own, I seem to gravitate towards these kinds of stories. Snoekstra features this alternative lifestyle element very well in her book, so you feel like a close member of the party, alongside the main characters. It is clear that Snoekstra has clearly researched her way through this topic, as her descriptions of this mode of living feels realistic, credible and immersive. Setting up a cult like place as the central location for a thriller to play out was a fantastic story direction. I know I was swept up in the suspense-filled events of Out of Breath.
Snoekstra pays close attention to her characters, giving us a good insight into their lives both in the present and in the past. Jo was a colourful lead, with a great history to unpack. I liked how Jo’s past was linked directly to the present-day happenings. The support cast are brushed with a good dose of authenticity and high interest, which helps keep the reader highly engaged in this novel. Alongside the solid characterisation are keynote themes of escape, travel, health, trauma, relationships, heartbreak, danger, decision making and personal healing. With the rich WA landscape illuminating the events of this tale, readers will be sucked into Out of Breath until the bitter end.
If you long to break free from the constraints of everyday life and experience something out of the ordinary, Out of Breath is a great alterative lifestyle thriller.
Out of Breath by Anna Snoekstra was published on 6th July 2022 by HQ Fiction AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Out of Breath, Anna Snoekstra, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.