Author: Sophia Tobin
Blurb: On top of the Yorkshire Moors, in an isolated spot carved out of a barren landscape, lies White Windows, a house of shadows and secrets. Here lives Marcus Twentyman, a hard-drinking but sensitive man, and his sister, the brisk widow, Hester.
When runaway Annaleigh first meets the Twentymans, their offer of employment and lodgings seems a blessing. Only later does she discover the truth. But by then she is already in the middle of a web of darkness and intrigue, where murder seems the only possible means of escape…
Having read both 'The Silversmith's Wife' and 'The Widow's Confession' by Sophia Tobin - and loving them both - my hopes were quite high for The Vanishing. And whilst I didn't enjoy this quite as much as her previous two books it was still incredibly well written and researched and I read it in only one sitting because I was gripped by the story.
The main character, Anna, was likeable but frustrating. Her character development throughout the story was done really well and was understandable. She changed a lot from the sweet and trusting girl she had been to the cynical woman who wanted revenge and I was right there with her at the end - I actually kind of hoped for more on the revenge line but I also understand why she chose to let things develop as they did. And I don't want to go into detail on that because spoilers! The other characters were not as well developed to my mind. Thomas served pretty much solely as a love interest and his character development revolved around Anna. Whilst he had a few strong moments where he stood up for himself - and he was likable - the book would not have been much different without him. Anna's employers - and the two other servants she worked with - were more complex but they, in comparison, did not get as much of a resolution as I would have liked. Particularly Jeanne who, I think, deserved a final confrontation with Anna and Hester who was an interesting character in the beginning but quickly faded towards the end.
The plot was, as I mentioned, extremely gripping and I was never bored. It also gets very dark very quickly. The first half of the book does an excellent job of building an unsettling atmosphere but the book switches from that to something far darker almost in a page turn and the rest of the book is much faster paced in comparison. Whilst I understood why, the pace change was a little abrupt and I had to reread a few pages in the middle to be sure I was understanding Anna's situation correctly. That said, I was so emotionally engaged in the story that I was sobbing by the end and kept thinking about Anna's story for the rest of the day.
Overall, whilst I did enjoy The Vanishing and it definitely was an impactful story, I wouldn't say it was a favourite and I did prefer Tobin's previous books. If you're looking for an extremely dark historical story - and are prepared to maybe cry - then I definitely recommend it though.
Trigger warnings (spoilers):
Drugging, captivity, loss of a child, death, rape