Rules for Vanishing

  • Post by Rachel Comish
  • May 09, 2019
Level: Teen
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal
Tags: murder mystery, magic, ghosts, sisters
Mature Content:

  - Moderate violence: Physical attacks and threats resulting in injury or death. Moderate language: Some swearing, including multiple F bombs. Mild sexuality: Brief kissing

Lucy Gallows disappeared into the forest and never returned. Years later, people follow in her footsteps, determined to solve the mystery once and for all. But the road is unwelcoming to strangers, and it’s picked up some distasteful inhabitants over the years. This spooky adventure is told in confessions, interviews, and video footage, which adds to its emphasis on the paranormal. The challenge to find Lucy is portrayed as a game, and with such simple rules it certainly sounds like a game. But the road leading to the answer of this small town’s mystery is unpredictable and deadly.

Sara has waited for the past year to figure out what happened when her sister Becca went in search of Lucy Gallows, but despite all her research and questions, nothing has changed. Now on the anniversary of Becca’s disappearance, Sara is finally venturing on the road that will lead her to finally unravel this mess. She’s determined to find her sister, no matter the consequences.


Mysteries are always fun, especially ones with picturesque settings and haunted forests. There’s frantic repetition, like the chanting of a psychotic breakdown, all throughout the book that adds to the tone. The different formats of the story make it feel disjointed and odd, but that seems to be the point so even the writing style reflects the mental breaking point of the characters. The teenagers who all end up on this road of horrors each have something that sets them apart, though there are so many people to focus on that some of the personality quirks feel forced.

Sara, the main narrator and voice of the story, focuses so much on finding her sister that it feels like that’s her entire identity. Her character isn’t as believable as the others, and feels a bit flat. But maybe that’s the point, since she is the narrator looking back on an event in her life that she feels immensely guilty for and wishes she could do differently. The group is carried by Mel’s snappish resilience, Trina’s upbeat practicality, and Jeremy’s dark humor.

The ending is true to the story, though I would have loved something darker and more twisted. But while there are some things I might have done differently to hype up the plot twists and characterization, it’s a thoroughly spooky tale perfect for stormy weather and mystery lovers.

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