Book Reviews

In the Shallows by Tanya Byrne: Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

In the Shallows by Tanya Byrne

Published May 21st 2024 by Godwin Books

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Mystery, LGBTQ+

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In this captivating young adult novel, two girls set out to unravel a mystery tied to the sea―and fall in love along the way.

On New Year’s Day, three fishermen haul a teenage girl out of the ocean. By the time they bring her to land, it’s clear that she doesn’t know where or who she is. Her story goes viral. The media calls her Nicoletta, after the fishermen’s boat. The rumors take a dark turn the next time the fishermen head out to sea―and fail to return. People say Nicoletta lured them to their deaths―their lives in exchange for hers.

And with that, the mystery becomes a legend.

Eighteen months later, Mara Malakar meets Nicoletta, or Nico, at a café. The two become fast friends, but as Mara realizes she wants more from their relationship, Nico remains oblivious, focused only on remembering. She may not want to, though. Could there be a reason she’s locked everything behind a door? And once she’s brave enough to open it, what will happen to her? To them?

Thank you to Colored Pages Book Tours and the publisher, Godwin Books/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, for sending me an ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

When Mara meets Nico she thinks she’s found her dream girl. But soon Nico turns flaky and capricious. One minute she acts as though she’s in love with Mara. The next, she’s unresponsive for days. And all without any warning. Mara doesn’t know what to do, but she knows that she cares for the girl she gets glimpses of when Nico opens up to her. So she agrees to meet Nico on New Year’s Eve despite everything.

Except, Nico doesn’t show. Instead, she sends a text breaking up with Mara once and for all. And that’s the last Mara sees of her. That is until Nico’s picture winds up on the news.

I had no idea what to anticipate when I started In the Shallows by Tanya Byrne. And after having read it, I can confidently say there is no possible way I could have predicted what I was in store for. In the Shallows is marketed as a sapphic romance, which it is. But it is also so much more than that.

While this book was a little slow to get started, the writing style immediately had me hooked and wanting to know more. And after the plot picked up, it felt like I couldn’t read the pages fast enough. Finding out what happened to Nico on New Year’s Eve was what kept me rooted to the spot, unable to put the book down until I could solve the mystery once and for all.

In the end, I was very pleased to have guessed the twist correctly thanks to cleverly laid breadcrumbs throughout the narrative. The ending reveal was thrilling and satisfying. I was happy with where the story left Mara and Nico and their relationship. 💛

About the Author

Tanya Byrne was born in London where she spent forty years before moving to Brighton.

After eight years at BBC Radio, she left to write her debut novel, HEART-SHAPED BRUISE, which earned her a nomination for New Writer of the Year at the National Book Awards.

Since then, she has written five more. Her most recent, AFTERLOVE, hit both the Amazon and Waterstones bestseller lists. She has also contributed to several short story anthologies including A CHANGE IS GONNA COME, which was named Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week and was honoured with a Special Achievement Award by the YA Book Prize.

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Buy Links: Amazon | Blackwells | Other Retailers

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Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.

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