'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 5 January 2020

Review: Rules for Vanishing

Marshall’s supernatural story is based on an original premise: outside of the small community of Briar Woods, a mysterious road is said to appear just once per year. 

An evil road, rumoured to have swallowed a young girl fifty years previously.
Of course the locals are equally fascinated and bored with the myth of Lucy Gallows, the girl who vanished. Any many have sought the deadly road.

This story centres around Sara, whose sister Becca disappeared the previous year, after having been determined to find the road and solve the mystery. 

Sara has been receiving strange messages, possibly through her strong connection with her missing sister. So, on the day in which the road is supposed to appear, Sara and eight friends seek the road for themselves, aware that there will be a ‘toll’ to pay for entering.  

The story is told in two points of view – with Sara as the narrator, recounting her terrifying experiences along the road, and then with transcripts of interviews with the teens who returned from the road and recovered footage from their phones collated by a couple of investigators. As the road messed with Sara’s memory, I understand why this plot device was used. 

Unfortunately, that is the novel’s greatest weakness. The overall effect rendered the narrative jarring and it took the reader out of the immediacy of the action. Although it sometimes added to the tension, it mainly dissipated it.  

Overall, there are moments of intrigue and genuine suspense. I loved that the characters were diverse. But sadly, there were too many characters and too many deaths. Instead of being a thrilling page turner as intended, it was hard for the reader to feel invested in the characters and their quest. And the ending was a let-down.

Title: Rules for Vanishing
Author: Kate Alice Marshall
Publisher: Walker, $16.99 
Publication Date: 1 October, 2019 
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781406393149
For ages: 14+ 
Type: Young Adult Fiction