The Vanishing by Wendy Webb ★★☆☆☆ #bookreview

vanishingSynopsis from Goodreads
Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired…and who the world believes is dead. When she arrives at the Sinclairs’ enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her “too-good-to-be-true” position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls.

My Thoughts
As I have mentioned in previous reviews of Wendy Webb’s books, I discovered this author a couple of weeks ago when I had the pleasure of reading Daughters of the Lake. I really enjoyed that book and decided to read more of her work. I read The End of Temperance Dare next. I loved that book, also! Next I read The Fate of Mercy Alban. To me, Mercy Alban was a rough draft of Temperance Dare, and only okay in my opinion. Now I have finished The Vanishing – yet another book that takes place in an old mansion next to Lake Superior, owned by an old woman, with a new younger woman entering the picture to discover and solve the house’s haunted secrets. This books even mentions again (just like Temperance Dare and Mercy Alban) that historically the owners of the house liked to invite writers and artists to use the home as a retreat. Seriously, I can’t believe her publisher let her write so many books that are almost exactly the same story.

My nitpicks:

  1. No substance. The bumps and scares weren’t scary.
  2. Another book where the young female lead instantly falls deeply in love with a male character. Seriously? Not believable.
  3. No way on earth the young lead female would agree so quickly to give up her identity and life as she knows it to vanish, literally, at the request of a stranger. That is a huge life altering decision that just isn’t made in minutes. That was so unbelievable, no matter the circumstances, that I almost stopped reading at that point.

I am reading Wendy Webb’s novels essentially in reverse publication order. It is clear she has improved as a writer because her last two books, Temperance Dare and Daughters of the Lake were really fantastic in my opinion and I’d recommend them to anyone that likes gothic horror. The earlier books? Not so much. I have to wonder if my opinion of her books would be different if I had read them in publication order instead. Maybe. I’ll never know at this point.

I have one more Webb book available to read and it was her first one. I will eventually give it a chance, if for no other reason than to complete the Webb catalog to date, but I think I may wait awhile to do so after the repetitiveness of The Vanishing.

Published January 21, 2014 by Hyperion

My rating – 2 out of 5

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