It’s not every day I come across books like “Then She Vanishes” that hook you from the very first page!
Disclaimer: I’ve received an advanced reader copy from the publisher, this doesn’t influence my opinion or review.
“Not as I imagined a person would feel who’s about to commit murder.”
Who should read it? If you enjoy a good thriller, you’re in for a treat.
Would I recommend it? Yes, definitely.
This book had one of the best prologues I’ve ever read! Most of the prologues I read are boring (I often skip them), and it’s not often that they pique my curiosity. Not this one!
I feel calm as I watch the sun rise behind the row of icecream-coloured houses. Not as I imagined a person would feel who’s about to commit murder.
There, straight to the point!
Why is that important? Because as soon as I’ve read the first chapter (actually, the first couple of sentences) I knew I wanted to keep reading this book. The rest of the book didn’t disappoint either. I loved the foreshadowing through the chapters, the subtle hints pointing the reader towards a certain direction that became more obvious as we’d proceed.
It seems the purpose was to lead the narrative towards a predictable ending, while at the same time, we were still left with doubts and possibilities. “What if…?” This made me, as a reader, feel a wide range of feelings and emotions towards the different characters at different points. I thought this was really well done.
I can’t say this is the type of thriller that will make you doubt the whole cast of characters, whether they’re telling you the truth or not (you know the type…), but instead, it’ll guide you towards a path with only a few possibilities. I liked that. It also connects to the character’s reliability. The narrators didn’t feel unreliable. This was great because it allowed us to connect more easily to Jess and Margot. Douglas did an excellent job in that aspect, the intent wasn’t to trick the readers or force twists. Even the surprising findings add up, and everything makes sense considering the narrative and past events.
Now, of course, it’s not perfect, and I wish sometimes the hints would’ve been more subtle. Often the narrator confirms our suspicions through a character’s PoV and sometimes it feels a bit too obvious. It’s almost as if: “Reader, this is what you should be thinking, right? Because this is what you should be thinking in order for the next events to make sense.”
Even though the main Point of Views (Jess and Margot) were well done, there were a few things that bothered me. What we consider to be Margot’s PoV is not really always Margot’s PoV as it sometimes alternates between characters. The same for the past narrators, there’s some head-hopping between Flora and Heather, and even Jess. I know I had an advanced reader copy and not the final version, but the head-hopping in the third-person narrative was something I really disliked. The italics bits are not very clear – I understand this is done on purpose, but the way they are integrated with the main narrative makes us feel more often confused than curious.
I know it seems I’m ranting a lot, but actually the book was so gripping that all the negative points felt more like tiny details. It didn’t affect how much I wanted to keep reading it, so that can only be a good thing, right?
Overall, I loved this book! Yes, it’s not perfect, and yes, it can be predictable at times, but it’s still able to surprise and hook you.