Blog Post, Review

13 Days of Horror | Day Two | Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

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Content warnings for: Body horror, death, parental abuse, suicide, grief, loss of a loved one
Representation: LGBTQIA+, disability (deaf, and speech impediment), adoption, racially diverse

It has been one year since Becca disappeared, leaving behind her sister Sara with more questions than answers. Did Becca really run away with some guy, or is it something more sinister? Sara has lost everything since that day, not only Becca but their strong friendship group and the person she had always hoped for more with.

Exactly one year after Becca’s disappearance, Sara, along with the rest of the school, receive a text message from an unknown number “Do you want to play the game?”. No one needs to question which game it refers to. The folktale of Lucy Gallows is known by everyone in town, although it is often considered a myth. Once a year, a road appears in the woods at midnight where the ghost of Lucy Gallows beckons. All those who see the road are invited to play her game, follow the road and make it through the seven gates. If you win, you can leave with your life, but if you lose…. Sara is adamant that Becca was playing the game when she disappeared, which leaves only one thing to do. Follow Lucy Gallows and save her sister from whatever awaits!

Rules for Vanishing is a genuinely eerie book that goes heavy on the horror. Young adult books are often dismissed as not as scary as adult books, but Kate Alice Marshall serves some serious scares, with some spine chilling scenes sitting with me for months after. I read this for the first time in 2019, and the spookiness held up on my re-read this year. Along with the fantastic body gore, Rules for Vanishing is almost unparalleled in its haunting nature.

Sara and the crew quickly learn that to survive, they must learn to trust one another, follow the rules without question, and above all else, not believe everything they see! Rules for Vanishing delivers the horror whilst focusing on a broken group of friends mending their friendship.

Interspersed with extracts from Sara’s diary and interview notes, Rules for Vanishing offers a mixed media element that builds on the tension as you follow their adventure down the road. This book is severely underrated and should be experienced as soon as possible.

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