Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
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+.