Rules for Vanishing

Kate Alice Marshall

Rules for Vanishing
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Rules for Vanishing

Kate Alice Marshall

Once a year, a road appears in the forest. And at the end of it, the ghost of Lucy Gallows beckons. Lucy’s game isn’t for the faint of heart. If you win, you escape with your life. But if you lose… 

Sara’s sister disappeared one year ago and only Sara knows where she is. Becca went to find the ghost of Lucy Gallows and is trapped on her road. In the sleepy town of Briar Glen, Lucy’s road is nothing more than local lore. But Sara knows it’s real, and she’s going to find it.  When Sara and her skeptical friends meet in the forest to search for Becca, the mysterious road unfurls before them. All they have to do is walk down it.

But the path to Lucy is not of this world, and it has its own rules. Every mistake summons new horrors. Vengeful spirits and broken, angry creatures are waiting for them to slip, and no one is guaranteed safe passage. The only certainty is this: the road has a toll and it will be paid. 

Sara knows that if she steps onto the road, she might not come back. But Becca needs her. And Lucy is waiting.

Review

Hold hands, close your eyes and take thirteen steps: that is how Becca Donoghue and her boyfriend disappeared, searching for the legend of Lucy Gallows. One year on and Becca’s sister Sara is intent on following those steps to bring Becca back from wherever – or whatever – has trapped her on Lucy’s Road. Gathering a group of brave if somewhat sceptical friends, Sara sets out to test this local legend and soon they’re on a journey that quickly becomes far more terrifying and surreal than they could ever anticipate. This Road has rules, and those who break the rules will pay a toll in blood.

Switching between Sara’s written testimony of their journey, recovered footage, and interviews with a pair of mysterious paranormal investigators, Rules for Vanishing blends the thrills of a good campfire legend with the intrigue of The X Files, and quickly descends into a dark and monstrous world in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft. Once you’re on the Road with Sara and her friends, it will have you questioning who’s telling the truth and what’s real until the very last page.

I loved that this book really delivered on its promise of creepiness, and the group’s journey through each of the seven gates on the Road demonstrates intricate and varied world-building by Marshall. As a lifelong fan of the horror and mystery genres, I was amazed that I was as unprepared for what lay ahead as the characters in the book. Rules for Vanishing is a compelling but complex read for fans of Stranger Things and dark, supernatural adventures aged 14+.


Pilgrim Hodgson is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids

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