Review: Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

Book Cover

An utterly gripping read from the first page to the very last

“When Archway Young Offenders Institution is closed down a notebook is found in one of the rooms. Its pages reveal the dark and troubled mind of Emily Koll, Archway’s most notorious inmate.”

Heart-Shaped Bruise is the debut novel of Tanya Byrne, and it’s a real corker. This young adult/adult cross-over story, is emotive, compelling and highly absorbing.

It tells the story of eighteen-year-old Emily Koll, through the diary she kept while at Archway Young Offenders Institution. As well as chronicling daily life as an inmate, Emily confides in the pages the things she can’t bring herself to tell the Institution’s therapist, Doctor Gilyard. Emily tells her story in her own style – cynical, witty and with more than a touch of dark humour. She might not be ‘likable’ to all, but she’s certainly very ‘readable’.

It’s hard to write a review without giving the story away, but I’m not going to tell you what Emily did or why she did it – it’s just too big a spoiler. What I will say is that as Doctor Gilyard tries to persuade the fragile-tough Emily to tell her why she did what she did, Emily’s barriers gradually crumple and she confides in the diary all the things that happened to tear her family apart and how she decided to take her revenge on the person she saw as responsible.

It’s a story of opposites – it’s sad yet funny, tense yet light-hearted, chilling yet warming, fragile yet powerful. Through Emily’s story of love, grief, hate and revenge, you go through the full rollercoaster of emotions. And it’s beautifully written, with a strong narrative voice that pulls you into Emily’s world, immerses you in her reality, and pulls a hard emotional punch at the end.

This is one of the most remarkable and unique books I’ve read this year. Whether you’re an adult or a young adult, this is a fantastic story that I think all fans of psychological thrillers will enjoy.

Highly recommended.


Heart-Shaped Bruise is published by Headline and is available now.

6 thoughts on “Review: Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

  1. Sarah says:

    This book is sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. What I need is a month’s reading holiday and I might actually make a dent in my TBR pile. You make a good case for me reading it.


  2. cross(stitch)yourheart says:

    Sounds like an excellent book, I’ll have to add it to my pile and see what it’s all about. You’ve got me intrigued!


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