Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne: Review

Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne


Today I’m reviewing Heart-Shaped Bruise, the debut YA novel from Tanya Byrne, published by Headline Books.


Heart-Shaped Bruise is written in the style of a journal, belonging to 17-year-old Emily Koll. Locked away in a young offenders’ psychiatric unit, her diary is a mix of venting and confession; her writing being the only way of combatting the lies about her in the press.


“You all think you know who I am. But the one thing Google will never tell you is who I used to be…

who I might have become if she hadn’t stabbed my father.”


Emily Koll’s father was a criminal, a London mobster, but to her, he was just Daddy. Growing up, she was completely unaware of the criminal family she was surrounded by, until the day her father was stabbed in the back by the daughter of the man he had just killed. After the incident, her father survives and is sent to prison, Emily moves to Spain with her Uncle, and the girl who committed the stabbing is put into witness protection and given a whole new life.


Emily’s life is ruined and the pain she feels soon turns into a need for revenge. Using her family’s connections, she finds the girl she’s looking for. Originally called Juliet, she’s now living with a retired policeman and his wife, pretending they’re her Aunt and Uncle and calling herself Nancy. Emily plots her revenge. She’s going to get close, she’ll befriend Nancy, she’ll trust her with all her secrets, she’ll be the one person she can turn to. Then Emily will slowly and calmly, exact her revenge.



Although this is a novel is aimed at younger adults, it really doesn’t feel like it to read. At no point do you feel the emotions, language or actions are toned down to fit that niche. Being set in a controlled unit of girls, it will no doubtfully draw comparisons to Girl Interrupted and is just as enjoyable. The main character is witty, damaged but smart, and the perfectly paced writing has you so drawn into her logical yet hate-fuelled scheme; it becomes hard to put down. There are also specific sentences that are drenched with such fury; they make your toes curl. Such as “…I’d had enough of flicking matches at her and finally set light to everything she had.” You just have to read the next chapter when one ends like that! Tanya Byrne has penned a truly excellent page-turner; it drew me in from the first page, captured me for the whole story and has left me wanting more.


If you like Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne, you’ll love Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne.


Buy The Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne



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