ARC REVIEW: Rules for Vanishing by Katie Alice Marshall 💭 Best Horror Book I Ever Read (ft. 2 Issues Because Mandy is Never Satisfied??)

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Title: Rules for Vanishing
Author: Kate Alice Marshall
Pages: 416

Release Date: September 24th 2019
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover

Genre: Horror, Mystery
Goodreads Rating: 4.14 (of 58 ratings)

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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.

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Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Viking Books via a Bookish First giveway. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. 

Despite the so so rating, this is one of the best horror stories I’ve ever read. I devoured this book entirely like the creepy monster things in it. It was creepy, spooky, and well written to give thrills, chills, and ews – all what I’ve been looking for in a proper YA horror story.

This book really is a hodge podge of things. I felt like it was Stranger Things meets The Illuminae Files meets The Ring – perhaps with even a dash of The X-Files. This story takes you through what happens when Sara, our main character, and a group of her ex-best friends go on a mission to find her sister, Becca, who has been missing for a year. Told in Sara’s increasingly unreliable written statements, interviews with the gang and paranormal experts, photo evidence, and more – this book leaves you constantly guessing and wondering just how did the author manage to make this work so seamlessly. 

As always, with any spooky novel, I’m looking mostly at the mood and the atmosphere. If they transport me to a different place and have me glancing behind myself when walking in a basement, then it’s done its job right – and this did its job right. The world was exceedingly intriguing, haunting, and sinister. You never knew what or who to trust and how breaking the rules could come back to literally haunt us. I LOVED IT.

I loved the plot. It was so fast moving, and I was in so so deep. I couldn’t wait to find out where it was going and what was happening. There were so many ups and downs. There was a whole unreliability to it that had me second guessing what was real and not real and had me looking at the smallest details, trying to find more. IT WAS SO GOOD. Ugh, I just want to dive back into this again and relive this plot.

There were two main things that I kept me from absolutely loving this novel:

🔸 The characters. Don’t get me wrong – I did enjoy the characters, and it was a good group – despite just how many of them there were. However, in the beginning, I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of them. I thought Nick and Jeremy were the same people for a while. However, I did get them straightened out after a bit, and while I did like them and rooted for them – I really never connected with them. I find this a lot to be the case for ensemble horror casts in these types of stories – we’re so focused on the storyline and the mood and the creeps, that a lot of the character development doesn’t quite connect. Deaths didn’t have as much of an impact or when a romance happened, I didn’t have the proper character depth to be super excited or saddened by it.

🔸 The ending. I still don’t fully get what happened with the ending??? I was going along with it for a while and there was a good twist but honestly the last ten or so pages had me confused. I feel like there was something that went down in those last few pages that was supposed to be a bigger twist, but I honestly didn’t fully get it? I still feel a bit lost.

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Jasmine

rating: Jasmine, because while I really enjoyed this whole new world – I’m not quite up for the 4.16 rating it’s getting on it due to my two issues with it
representation: bisexual MC, f/f romance, hearing impaired side character, black love interest, Asian side character, side character with stutter
content warnings: gore (some graphic descriptions), death, death of principle characters, murder, exorcism

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What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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4 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: Rules for Vanishing by Katie Alice Marshall 💭 Best Horror Book I Ever Read (ft. 2 Issues Because Mandy is Never Satisfied??)

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