“Do you want to know where Lucy went? She went to play the game. You can play, too. Find a partner. Find a key. Find the road. You have two days.”
What would you do if your entire school received the same ominous text message? I’d probably go home and hide in my room until people stopped talking about it, but the characters in Rules for Vanishing aren’t afraid of much, and decide to play this eerie game.
What is the game? According to local legend, it’s about finding Lucy Gallows: a lost little girl who was last seen over 50 years ago. She apparently wandered into the forest one day, and even though her brother went to look for her, was never seen again. Did her brother really murder her and hide the body? Did she run away? Or did she get trapped on a mysterious road like so many others before her? Citizens of Briar Glen may never find out, but they’ll always wonder.
That is, until Becca Donoghue goes missing, and her sister Sara is determined to find her. Sara knows her sister is still alive, and doesn’t believe that she ran away with a boy (despite what local police said after she disappeared). No, she knows her sister’s disappearance is somehow linked to the local legend of Lucy’s ghost, and she’s determined to find out how everything is connected, no matter the cost.
If you’re looking for a spooky book to read this fall, I highly suggest adding Rules for Vanishing to your list. As soon as I saw the description for this book I knew I had to read it, and friends, I was not disappointed. The writing style (faux-documentary) has been compared to The Blair Witch Project (which I’ve never seen), but was something that really caught my eye.
The story is told through a series of documents: interviews, text and email exchanges, video evidence (which reads more like a script), and testimonials from the main character Sara (which are written more like traditional book chapters). It’s a little all over the place, which I think adds to the story. It’s difficult to follow at times, and seems confusing, but it’s supposed to be: Sara and her friends end up on what is essentially a ghost road, fighting to survive against monsters and paranormal beings, so yeah, it should be difficult to determine what exactly happened.
Rules for Vanishing is beautifully written, and full of hope, friendship, ghosts, local lore, mystery, unreliable characters, and emotion. It has a cast of relatable and lovable characters, and will leave you a bit confused but totally satisfied.
If you’re looking for some new YA horror that will give you goosebumps, add this to your list. It’s creepy and atmospheric, and will keep you up at night either turning pages, or wondering what exactly happened in the woods.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for a review. Rules for Vanishing comes out on September 24, 2019.