Title: Rules for Vanishing
By: Kate Alice Marshall
Published: September 24th, 2019
By: Viking Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA – Horror – Mystery/Thriller- Paranormal (LGBT+)
Buy it: Book Depository
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, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her–and who won’t make it out of the woods?
It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her…or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca–before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends–and their cameras–following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.
| Goodreads |
“Little Lucy, dressed in white, Gave her mother such a fright, Walked into the woods one day, Where she went no one can say, Down a road that no one found, Or are her bones sunk in the ground? How many steps did Lucy take? One, two, there, four…”
I just adore this book, I would say that it’s one of my surprises of the year because although the plot always seemed interesting to me, I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it, no doubt, this will be one of those books that I’ll be recommending for years! What I highlight above all in the book, is the main idea of the plot and the way it’s executed, I think everything is very smart and has just the right complexity to make you can’t stop reading. I also love the different formats in which this plot is told & although the characters aren’t too deep, I think each one of them has an emotional weight within the plot that makes them very interesting to follow. It’s a solid spooky plot with unexpected twists and thousands of super unique details.
In the town of Briar Glen, there’s this legend that says that every year a path open ups in the woods and Lucy Gallows wakes up. In the book we follow Sara whose sister, Becca, disappeared a year ago when she was investigating the Lucy Gallows’ case, and today while Sara’s trying to survive school, all her classmates including her receive a text message inviting them to “play a game” to find Lucy and even though Sara hasn’t talked to her friends in a whole year, they end up meeting in the woods equipped with cameras and cell phones, determined to playing this game and traversing the macabre path to find Becca and bring her home again. They must have a lot of courage to overcome the dark tricks this journey has for them and if they ever manage to leave, nothing will be the same.
I think this book is super entertaining to read, it has a fairly slow pace, but I think, in this case, it’s a good thing because it allows it to create a very unique atmosphere of a lot of intrigues, suspense, and discomfort while you accompany the characters to travel this path and go through every door. It has a very unique concept, where the characters, as I mentioned, must face a path which they cannot abandon if they want to survive the creatures that stalk the darkness, while they go through every door that’s presented to them. These doors lead them to creepy fantastical places, where very twisted things begin to happen and make the group make impossible decisions and have to make sacrifices in order to “win” this game and reach the final door. It’s like the Wayward Children books, but a darker version lol.
I love how in each world there is a different danger and a new challenge to overcome, I think that keeps it very entertaining, but it also made me feel palpitations, I was very nervous in some situations because there are beasts that chase you, creatures that can take human form, spider creatures, and other very strange things, and the characters must try to survive without getting out of their way, it’s like a constant tension, that for me was very incredible to experience. It’s also a very atmospheric book, it has scenes with dark descriptions but in the same way incredible, I loved the surroundings and the fact that we’re constantly changing scenery, and we go from forests to beaches or cities and rivers, it’s very unique and pleasant to read.
And although I think that everything I just described to you is unique and incredible, I think that what makes this book stand out and separates it from most, is that it’s told through different formats, we have interviews, we have video and audio excerpts, newspapers, surveillance cameras, and even the story itself is written in the form of writing by the main character. All this although it sounds messy now that I mention it, it’s built-in in a way that makes it dynamic to read and its somewhat heavy aura doesn’t feel so heavy. It’s also super interesting to get to know the story in this way since it gives it a realistic touch in the best documentary style that I love! & Another thing that I enjoy, is that this book is told between jumps in time all the time going back to the present, where they’re interviewing some of the characters and going back to the past, where Sara (MC) tells us all about the facts that occurred while they were on the journey together with her friends to rescue her sister. Very smart!
The author’s style is very solid, I enjoyed it a lot, I think she writes with an incredible emotional weight, which makes you feel committed to the story from the first moment, as I mentioned before, her descriptions are beautiful, and the dialogues (which are a key part of the story) are very well built. She’s an author that I’m excited to read more from in the future.
The characters are good, I’m not particularly impressed by any of them, but I do think they fulfill their functions very well within the plot, and each of their personalities is distinguished very well, which is always appreciated. I’m going to briefly talk to you about them as I always do. Sara (bisexual rep), is our main character, she’s going through a moment of great loneliness and grief due to the disappearance of her sister, convinced that Becca would never have escaped without her as everyone says. I love how the character becomes more and more courageous as the plot progresses, I noticed a growth in her and I liked that, also the bonds of sisters make me weak, I simply love that, Sara’s loyalty with her sister is beautiful. She’ll have to go through a lot of mental torture in the book and I feel so bad for her, but I liked her as a primary character. Then we have Becca, who for some reason I didn’t like at first, but towards the end and especially due to her bond with her sister, I managed to understand her more. We have Anthony, who could be my favorite character, I don’t know why but I really liked him, he’s loyal and truly kind, I found her very warm and I appreciate his actions. Another character that I really liked was Kyle, who’s not really part of the group but he’s the younger brother of one of them, so he’s also part of the journey itself, and he’s adorable, I wanted to hug him all the time. Then we have Mel (lesbian rep) another character that I had a hard time understanding due to her harsh personality, but then towards the end I really liked her. Nick‘s plot-line broke my heart, I’ll just say that also Vannesa‘s (stuttering rep) & especially Trina‘s *sad forever* and finally, I want to mention Jeremy (partially-deaf rep) because he starts out being the bully of the class and ends up being one of the bravest characters.
Then we have more characters, but I don’t want to mention too much because I think it’s more fun once you discover them, there are many characters that, although they’re secondary, end up contributing a lot to the plot, which is great.
This is the kind of book when you start thinking that you know everything and that you can almost see how it will end, but as it progresses the focal point of the plot changes all the time and you end up in a different place that you never saw coming, even this also happens with the characters, it’s impossible to know what will happen to each one. I love how unpredictable it is and I enjoyed each plot twist towards the end, I found them very entertaining because when you think that everything is over, in fact, there are still more and I love that!
There are many deaths, bloody scenes, self-harm, mutilation, and hundreds of things that can hurt your sensitivity, so be very careful about that.
The ending was open, and I confess that this doesn’t always work for me, but this time was perfect, it gives you that feeling that this really happened and that this is all that could be documented of the case and seems like such a brilliant idea. After the end, we also have some more excerpts like info that some people could collect from the case and their protagonists, and I was like WOW, this is a very good idea. Maybe I already said it, but I’ll repeat it, this book is very well executed and very well carried out, I feel that it’s very meticulous, and there are small details that you cannot lose in order to understand thoroughly what’s happening. There are scenes that something happens and you yourself think that the author must have made a mistake, but then you realize that the path itself is confusing the characters, making them see things or forget things and it’s like also plays with the reader’s mind, which it’s such a unique experience, I really enjoyed it
A great book, an impeccable execution of a story full of suspense, mystery, and terrifying moments that will freeze your blood, this book would be the perfect adaptation to a horror movie, due to the format in which it is told and every little detail would be incredibly appreciated on the big screen. You can’t miss it if you want to read something like “The Blair Witch Project”, which is one of my favorite movies, I love the style of filming in first person, I think it’s fun and it worked very well in writing form as well. Get ready for this book to play with your mind and also with your feelings, the scenes are loaded with a lot of melancholy and a huge emotional load, so you’ll feel that you care about the characters and you’ll want to know quickly what will happen next, it’s very captivating, highly addictive, and the atmosphere is precious. You have to read it, maybe the characters are a bit cliche, but it doesn’t prevent the enjoyment of the story in its entirety. I highly recommend it!