2018 - Shortlisted
A Shadow’s Breath is an exciting book. Dual timeframes embrace the core of the work: how to look back so as to be able to move on. The story is an unusual blend of art and violence. In telling the past story of Tessa and Nick, Hayes explores the emotional depths of accomplished artworks through precise dialogue embracing symbolism and structure. By desperate contrast, then, she describes the violence of the car accident that upends the characters’ lives, leaving them struggling to find a way forward.
Perhaps the best way to review a life is to look at it in a near-death experience. This is exactly what Hayes does in A Shadow’s Breath. It is a device that encourages the reader to appreciate his or her life and to ‘seize the day’. Accomplished and compelling, this is a well-crafted and thought-provoking work.