Really interesting. Hypnotic. Didn’t go where I expected it to go, and carried an uncomfortable edge from beginning to bitter end.
Writing style: ★★★★
Sense of unease: ★★★★★
Plot/Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
The Temple House Vanishing comes out on July 6!
As I write this review, there's a thunderstorm outside my window and we're on our 5th day of constant rain and storms. This feels almost creepily tied to the review of this book... so I'm rolling with it.
It was a dark, and stormy night...
But actually, it wasn't. It was just "a" night in the rural Irish moors when Louisa disappears from the Temple House school. The enigmatic young male teacher, Mr. Lavelle, disappears too. Many theories abound over the years as neither student nor teacher are seen again.
Did they run off together?
Was their something sordid in their closeness?
Where are they now?
What REALLY happened that school year in the all-girls boarding school?
On the 25th anniversary of the disappearances, a journalist decides to have a crack at solving the case. The students are now middle-aged women, the nuns who ran the school are dead, and Temple House itself is slated for demolition. If the case is going to be solved at all, it must be now.
But all is not what it seems, and as the layers unpeel from this gothic tale the lingering sense of unease creeps up on you. Don't get too comfortable.
I thought this was a very interesting novel. Is it a mystery/thriller? Kind of. Is it a twisted tale, meant to unearth the darkest aspects of human nature? I don't know if I'd say that. In the end, I'd say it's a character study and an exercise in the gothic classics. The Temple House Vanishing is perfect for those who enjoy Sarah Waters and Sarah Moss.
The writing style took a little getting used to, as it's very no-nonsense and deals in overt sentences laced with undertones. I found it really easy to get lost in the surface plot and glaze over some of the fine print in the details... and then that would bite me later, as those fine details were where the true story is unfolding.
A complex, multilayered dual-POV novel with a lot of interesting nuances.
Now, a brief NON-SPOILER section on the ending. As this novel is centered around a mysterious circumstance, there is a final series of reveals regarding The Truth of What Happened. I found myself surprised by the ending... and also slightly cheated... and also vaguely uneasy. It wasn't a comfortable, or frankly satisfying, ending. But it felt very real and not over-sensationalized and honestly fit right in with the overall sense of lingering unease that the novel provoked.
If this review doesn't turn you right off from the book, then I'd say you should pick it up! The target audience is on the small, niche side, but you'll have a good time here if that's your thing.
Thank you to Algonquin Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.