I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Vanishing by Wendy Webb
Published by Hyperion on January 21, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Ghost, Ghosties, Gothic, Occult & Supernatural
Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired . . . and who the world believes is dead.
When she arrives at the Sinclairs' enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her "too-good-to-be-true" position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls.
Julia Bishop is left alone and completely destitute when her husband commits suicide after it was discovered he had swindled out all their family and friends out of their life savings with a Ponzi scheme. She’s accused of being a co-conspirator in her husband’s shady dealings and is left friendless as well. Unexpectedly a man arrives on her doorstep to offer her a job taking care of her mother, the well-known but presumed dead author Amaris Sinclair. Accepting this job would also allow her to vanish from her current life issues so she readily accepts not truly understanding why she is being trusted with this job.
‘The truth finds its way into the light, no matter what you’ve done to contain it.’
There is little to say about this novel for fear of giving away spoilers. The Vanishing lacks in complexity but makes up for it in riveting storytelling. It often requires a suspension of disbelief because of the incredulity of much that occurs within these pages. For the better part of this novel, I found myself enthralled. A beautiful house in the middle of nowhere with a story all its own. A group of people with secrets. An unreliable narrator that puts everything into question. I love a good Gothic novel and I was well overdue. I greedily consumed the pages eager for the much anticipated twist that is a critical part of any Gothic novel. And that’s where I was left feeling cheated and completely dissatisfied. Simply put, my suspension of disbelief was pushed to excess and rationality intervened. As the author states at the end:
‘With my novels, I’m not trying to define a generation, right any great wrongs, or change the way you think about the world or your place init. I just want to craft a good story that will delight you, entertain you, grab you and not let go, and send some shivers up your spine along the way.’
The Vanishing did entertain me and there was the occasional shiver. Unfortunately, the ending was an unsatisfactory conclusion to an exiting tale that left me perplexed and discontented. As a whole, this was a very enjoyable novel and I can still honestly say that I’m glad to have read it.