Review of Breathless by Amy McCulloch

A thriller set in the Himalayas? Why, yes, please!

Amy McCulloch
May 3, 2022

Blurb: Journalist Cecily Wong is in over her head. She’s come to Manaslu, the eighth-highest peak in the world, to interview internationally famous mountaineer Charles McVeigh on the last leg of a record-breaking series of summits. She’s given up everything for this story—her boyfriend, her life savings, the peace she’s made with her climbing failures in the past—but it’s a career-making opportunity. It could finally put her life back on track.
But when one climber dies in what everyone else assumes is a freak accident, she fears their expedition is in danger. And by the time a second climber dies, it’s too late to turn back. Stranded on a mountain in one of the most remote regions of the world, she’ll have to battle more than the elements in a harrowing fight for survival against a killer who is picking them off one by one.

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As a long time acrophobiac (is that a word?) . . . person suffering from acrophobia, I have a very unusual penchant for being absolutely fascinated by mountaineers, the Himalayas, and books about both. Knowing that I would never undertake such an expedition does not stop me from being in awe of those who do.

Author Amy McCulloch has actually climbed Manaslu, the mountain she writes about in Breathless, the thrilling page-turner that kept me up all night late last week, giving the novel a level of authenticity.

Cecily Wong wrote a blog post that went viral about her two unsuccessful mountain climbing attempts. Little did she know that it would land her the incredible opportunity of being on the team of the famous Charles McVeigh who is on the last mountain of what will be a record breaking number of summits. After her boyfriend dumps her out of jealousy believing that he should be the journalist scoring an interview/climb with McVeigh, Cecily begins training like she never has before so that this attempt will be a success on her part. The last thing she expects when she arrives in Nepal is murder.

McCulloch did such an excellent job of making me feel like I was there. Her description of the land drew me in as did her descriptions of the physicality of the climb, the harshness of the weather on the mountain, and the suddenness at which the weather could change.

She created an interesting cast of characters from a young Canadian woman who loves climbing more than anything else, an American entrepreneur attempting to get his latest inventions used by his fellow climbers, an arrogant British filmmaker who believes all women should fall at his feet, and the no-nonsense leader of their team who’s trying to keep them all focused.

Although Cecily sometimes initially annoyed me, I grew to like her character and root for her as the situation became grave.

While the experienced thriller reader will probably guess the whodunit part midway through, McCulloch does throw a very solid, unexpected wrench in the works in the climax that adds a whole other layer to the story.

A very satisfying, tension-packed thriller!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Five Butterflies

3 thoughts on “Review of Breathless by Amy McCulloch

  1. Fantastic review!
    I saw this book a few days ago and wasn’t sure about it but it sounds like a pretty great read.
    Love the cover!

    1. Thank you, Sheri. As I was getting links and the image, I noted that it doesn’t always get good reviews on Amazon from the British contingent where it was evidently released before it was released here–in fact, some were downright scathing, almost had me doubting what I’d read but not quite. 🙂

      1. You’re very welcome. Some of the best reads are like that sometimes, they surprise you.
        Glad it worked out!

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