Set in the dreary Yorkshire moors . . . Annaleigh, a foundling raised by a portrait painter, runs from a doomed romantic entanglement to be a servant at White Windows to a brother and sister, Marcus and Hester Twentyman.
Two other mysterious servants warn her not to develop any kind of friendship with the Twentymans, no matter how warm or inviting they seem. Annaleigh soon discovers that Marcus is volatile and tempestuous, often running into the foggy moor at night to be alone. Hester is timid and paranoid, and suffers from crippling headaches.
The beginning of the story is compelling and has all the elements required for a juicy gothic thriller. The darkness and isolation of the moors enhance the creepiness and claustrophobia of White Windows. There is no escape from the house, nowhere to run. The atmosphere is chilling with a constant presence of foreboding.
The second half of the book, however, becomes more unbelievable, and the characters are inconsistent. Their motivations are ambiguous and their reactions are often incongruous with their earlier temperaments. The story is still interesting enough keep the pages turning, but it requires a strong desire to suspend disbelief in order to accept the plot developments. The plot twists left me with a lot of questions, and the inexplicable actions of the characters were distracting.
I always enjoy a spooky tale, and The Vanishing did not disappoint, but other reviewers’ comparisons to Jane Eyre and Fingersmith are too generous. Despite its flaws, if you seek out Gothic mysteries, as I do, The Vanishing is for you.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for the advance copy.