December 2019, Fiction

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall. September 24, 2019. Viking, 402 p. ISBN: 9781984837011.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister–at all costs.

Once a year, a road appears in the forest. And at the end of it, the ghost of Lucy Gallows beckons. Lucy’s game isn’t for the faint of heart. If you win, you escape with your life. But if you lose….

Sara’s sister disappeared one year ago–and only Sara knows where she is. Becca went to find the ghost of Lucy Gallows and is trapped on the road that leads to her. In the sleepy town of Briar Glen, Lucy’s road is nothing more than local lore. But Sara knows it’s real, and she’s going to find it.

When Sara and her skeptical friends meet in the forest to search for Becca, the mysterious road unfurls before them. All they have to do is walk down it. But the path to Lucy is not of this world, and it has its own rules. Every mistake summons new horrors. Vengeful spirits and broken, angry creatures are waiting for them to slip, and no one is guaranteed safe passage. The only certainty is this: the road has a toll and it will be paid.

Sara knows that if she steps onto the road, she might not come back. But Becca needs her.

And Lucy is waiting.

Potentially Sensitive Areas:Strong language, Violence, Mention of underage drinking, Mention of suicide, Domestic abuse

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2019)
What happened to Becca Donoghue? Sara Donoghue never believed the rumors that her sister, Becca, simply ran away from home with her boyfriend. Becca had been obsessed with Lucy Gallows, the ghost from the 1950s who allegedly haunts their town, and the mysterious road that Lucy traveled on before she disappeared. Before Becca vanished too, the last thing Sara overheard her say was “We know where the road is. We’ve got the keys. That’s all we need to find her. I’m not backing down now. Not after everything we’ve done to get this close.” As the one-year anniversary of Becca’s disappearance approaches, Sara becomes desperate to discover what happened and how it may be related to the real Lucy. The setup is slow and complicated, with many diverse characters, relationships, and supernatural rules. While normally something to be celebrated, this diverse cast feels forced and inauthentic, like moons orbiting the main white protagonist, Sara (Becca is Asian—her ethnicity is never specified—and adopted). When the plot eventually picks up its pace, the story becomes quite engrossing and cleverly moves between its many narrators, characters, and plot twists. If readers can move past the long-winded and complicated setup, they will enjoy this mashup of The X-Files and the The Blair Witch Project, but those seeking a handy conclusion will likely be disappointed. A mixed bag for patient older teens. (Mystery. 15-18)

Publishers Weekly (September 16, 2019)
Local legend holds that the nearby woods are home to the ghost of Lucy Gallows, who vanished decades ago outside Briar Glen, Mass. While searching for Lucy, Sara Donoghue’s sister, Becca, disappeared a year earlier. Now, mysterious texts point Sara and her friends on the same harrowing journey in hopes of finding Becca. Traveling a supernatural road through a deadly darkness, they enter a world filled with myriad terrors and dangers, where breaking the rules leads to a horrible fate. In this chilling tale, Marshall (I Am Still Alive) ties together regional folklore, urban legends, and ghost stories to craft an exquisitely unsettling dark fantasy. Framed as a series of post-incident interviews and supplemented with found camera footage, videos, and texts, this multilayered, unpredictable nail-biter reveals the truth one fragment at a time. The characters, including queer, racially diverse, and variously abled teens, are well-developed, amplifying readers’ engagement in the high stakes. The nightmarish setting, frequent surprises, and inherent ambiguity will appeal to fans of Seanan McGuire’s books. Ages 12-up.

About the Author

Kate Alice Marshall started writing before she could hold a pen properly, and never stopped. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with a chaotic menagerie of pets and family members, and ventures out in the summer to kayak and camp along Puget Sound. I Am Still Alive was her YA debut, followed by Rules for Vanishing.

Her website is katemarshallbooks.com.

Around the Web

Rules for Vanishing on Amazon

Rules for Vanishing on Barnes and Noble

Rules for Vanishing on Goodreads

Rules for Vanishing on LibraryThing

Rules for Vanishing Publisher Page

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