Thursday, January 14, 2016


Publisher:     Hatchett Books
Published:     January 6, 2015
ISBN:       978-1401341947
Genre:      Gothic Suspense
Format:    Print
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gna


In the aftermath of her husband, Jeremey’s suicide Julia Bishop is left to deal with the scorn of people she thought were friends as well as an outraged populace.  Considered another Bernie Madoff her husband was called a sociopath and Julia was caught in his web.  In utter despair she is stunned when a stranger named Adrian appears on her doorstep with a job offer—to come with him right then and there and become a companion to his mother, Amaris Sinclair.  Amaris Sinclair just to happens to be the woman who inspired Julia to write her first book.  At first Julia is confused—the famous gothic horror writer, Amaris Sinclair has been dead many years.  But Adrian tells her a tale that sounds incredible—Amaris Sinclair is actually alive, but has chosen to live as a recluse in the family home of Havenwood. 

With nothing left to lose, Julia accompanies Adrian to Havenwood where she feels both secure and at the same time unsettled.  The residents of Havenwood are kind and welcoming.  But at the same time they have their secrets.  One moment Julia feels like a cherished friend and at others like a prisoner.  Even more disconcerting are the strange voices she hears when no one is around, particularly a little girl.  And then there are the ghosts…or are they hallucinations brought about by sudden withdrawal from her medication? 

And then, most alarming of all is Amaris Sinclair’s claim about Julia’s family and her connection to a famous psychic.  Drawn closer and closer to one family member and at the same time questioning her sanity, especially when Amaris tells her a story she can hardly believe.  Can her sanity survive the truth of what is happening at Havenwood?

THE VANISHING was the first book by Wendy Webb I have read.  It is not the last—I have already ordered her entire back list and she is high on my auto-buy/auto-read list.  I’m a fan of gothic suspense and gothic horror and she weaves an amazing story that transcends time.  At the end of THE VANISHING one of the characters quotes from Poe’s Dream quote:  “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” That quote sums up THE VANISHING and Webb does it amazingly.

I started reading THE VANISHING and was immediately drawn into Julia and Amaris’s stories.  So much so I couldn’t put it down—taking every free minute on breaks at work, ignoring my co-carpoolers riding to and from work and staying up late at night turning page after page until the end.  And at the end I had to sit and mentally revisit the myriad elements of the story, turning each over in my mind and seeing each facet of it in a new or different light. 

Webb creates the perfect gothic backdrop with Havenwood.  And between Adrian and Drew you have two possible heroes—heroes who could be dark and brooding, dangerous or Julia’s saviour.  And the ghosts—they are a particularly wonderful thread in the story—are they real?  Or parts of Julia’s imagination?  And is her imagination simply that or part of something much more sinister?

Definitely one of the best reads this year.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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