Tuesday 11 February 2014

Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

They say I'm evil. The police. The newspapers. The girls from school who shake their heads on the six o’clock news and say they always knew there was something not quite right about me. And everyone believes it. Including you. But you don't know. You don't know who I used to be.

Who I could have been.

Awaiting trial at Archway Young Offenders Institution, Emily Koll is going to tell her side of the story for the first time. 

Written as if in a notebook, Emily gets the chance to tell her side of the story to what landed her in prison. Her narrative is all over the place as she remembers what bought her to the psychotic institute as well as telling the everyday occurrences while there. It wasn't logical or linear but a natural progression and a balance between the past and present. Emily's story made for very interesting reading, with an unreliable narrator that you love to hate but, at least in my case, couldn't help but feel sorry for.

Byrne doesn't want to give anything away too soon, just leaving little breadcrumbs that have to be picked up and stored away for future reference, and will hopefully make sense later. I loved this technique, it made Emily's story more realistic as she didn't want to talk about it, even to herself. The story of how she was in prison was difficult to narrow down at first but as we see how Emily was so focused on revenge for her father and how she intertwined herself in Juliet's life to bring her down, I couldn't help but be impressed. The normalcy of life outside, especially Sid's story, really bought focus to the brutality of Emily's life in prison as well as showing Emily as "only human" with her near inability to complete her mission. It showed her as vulnerable, and I applaud Byrne for making a character so fascinating. 

There were moments when Emily, as her undercover persona Rose, left a crack in Juliet/Nancy's barrier and I cheered her on! I'm not sure if I was supposed to feel proud of Emily for successfully ruining Juliet's life but I did at times. Not sure what that says about me, but it says wonders about Byrne's writing that she got me to care about a psychopath. Even in her own voice, you could tell she was a little bit insane and while she was unnerving at times, she was also broken and insecure. An all-around incredible character, I could not help but love her and fall completely in love with Byrne's writing as she sucked me in to Emily's horrible story.

Published 10th May 2012 by Headline.


  1. Fab review. I've been meaning to read this for a while, will get round to it eventually!

  2. I have had this book on my TBR pile for ages and I keep meaning to get to it! The premise sounds amazing. You've definitely persuaded me to read it soon :D Byrne's writing sounds good. Great review!