Title: The Vanishing
Author: Wendy Webb
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy (Paranormal), Horror
Release Date: January 27, 2014
Acquired: ARC from Netgalley.com
Date Finished: 12/28/13
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.
This was one of the best books I have read in a while! It reminded me a lot of the great old-school, gothic ghost stories. A creepy old house, a creepy cast of characters who might or might not be what they seem, and a creepy plot with a female character who is trapped by her circumstances. Oh, and did I mention ghosts? This isn’t one of those books that tempt you with the allure of ghosts, but doesn’t deliver. This one has real ghosts! I found The Vanishing unexpectedly refreshing!
This book was full of likeable characters. Julia was curious enough to keep you hooked on the story. She was a bit gullible, but I couldn’t help but like her. Amaris Sinclair was absolutely fascinating. She was the supposedly dead gothic writer who has simply gone into hiding. You want to know what happened to make her turn into a recluse at the height of her career. Then, there is Andrew McCullough. Whew! Drew is a Scottish hottie who works as the stable manager/vet and may or may not be the original builder of the house from the 1880’s.
There are a lot of twists and turns throughout the book. Just when you think you have things figured out, you realize you don’t. Even the epilogue leaves you with a possible twist.
Of course, there are always a couple of drawbacks regardless of how good a book is…
- You really have to suspend your sense of reality in this one. Julia makes some choices that no sane woman would make. She chooses to overlook a lot of very strange occurrences, and she is way too trusting of these people she barely knows. Of course, that is the way of most ghost stories. Most people would never go to live with people they didn’t know. Also, most sane people would run away at the first sign of a ghost, but ghost stories require a character who is willing to brave it all. That is our fair Julia.
- This book encompassed every trick of the trade from old-school ghost stories. But Wendy Webb, the author, said, “I’m not trying to define a generation, or change the way you think about the world or your place in it. I just want to craft a good story that will delight you…and send some shivers up your spine along the way.” Webb definitely succeeded in her mission. Even using the same old trappings, Webb made it a very enjoyable read.
- Julia has her first ghost encounter within the first couple of days in the house. I wish that aspect of the story had been drawn out a bit more. I think it would have heightened the creep factor exponentially.
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely!! I’m giving it 4.5 stars. I held back that 1/2 star only because some of Julia’s decisions were so incredibly unbelievable. I hope you will read this one. It was so much fun!
I’d like to thank Netgalley.com, Hyperion and Wendy Webb for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.