Book Review – Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Title: Rules for Vanishing

Author: Kate Alice Marshall

Edition: Hardcover

Page Count: 416 pages

Rating:  5 / 5 ✨✨✨✨✨

Short Summary: 

Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her–and who won’t make it out of the woods?

It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her…or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca–before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends–and their cameras–following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.


“What happened in the dark?”

I’m just going to go out on a limb and say this now: RULES FOR VANISHING is going to be one of my Top Favorite Reads of 2020, there’s no doubt in my mind.

I got a copy of this book last year for my birthday as a surprise gift from my incredibly sweet friend Destiny, who chose it for me from my Amazon wishlist. I’d seen it marketed as a sort of “YA Blair Witch Project”, which I am all over as a comparison, holy heck!

Funny mini story in the middle of my review: I’ve followed Destiny’s blog for a couple of years now, even before joining the bookish community. We often share similar book tastes, and I was so in love with her entire aesthetic, blog, and personality as a reviewer that when I finally did join bookstagram, she was one of the first people I followed. Fast forward to now, almost 2 years after really going hard into being a part of a community I was first too intimidated to join, and Destiny is one of my best blogging & bookish friends – and honestly, just one of my favorite humans in general! Her kindness, inclusiveness, and genuine passion for books and reading as a blogger are such an asset to authors, publishers, and the bookish community in general. I am so grateful to have become her friend! So shout out to Destiny, and a big thank you for sending me a book that I am now completely in love with!

So, okay, back to the review! 😉 This one is hard to really nail down genre-wise, but we’re going to go with horror for the sake of simplicity. There is a little bit of a fantastical element to it as well, but mostly, it’s a creepy story told from the perspective of a teenage girl whose sister disappeared a year before the events of the story really start. I won’t go too much into the synopsis ’cause you can read that above or on the back of the book like anyone else, but what I will say was that there is so much more to this book than first meets the eye.

RULES is most definitely a young adult book, but I don’t say that with any negativity, and to point out that those of you that scoff at the genre are missing out if you refuse to read it based on that alone. Yes, it does deal with teenagers and things like high school friendships – but those are secondary to the actual story, and only add to the depth of each character, which the author writes to be fully fleshed out and believable enough to stand on their own. Horror in YA fiction is so underappreciated, and I wish there had been this much of it when I was a teen, because I would have absolutely loved it.

The legend of Lucy Gallows was everything I want from spooky town ghost stories, and I absolutely loved her character, as well as that of the Road. Alright, I know a road isn’t really a character, but you’ll understand what I mean when you read it. The Road in this story seems to have a dangerous, manipulative mind of its own.

I’m going to try to talk about the next part without any spoilers, but apologies if it’s a little confusing. While this book is about a group of teenagers in a creepy journey to hopefully save the main character’s lost sister, that isn’t all it is. There are stories within the story, and the book is told in different formats, during different times, and from different perspectives. I know it sounds like it’s all over the place, and it sort of is, but it’s done in such a wonderful way that I can only applaud the author after finishing it.

Portions of the book take place after everything has happened, and it’s through the telling of these parts of the story, as well as the journey along the Road for the main characters, that we can finally piece together the full picture. And wow, what a picture it is! Remember me saying that there was more to this than first meets the eye? The ending was incredible, and I honestly just sat there for awhile after finishing this one in a sort of stunned silence. Like, OH. It all made sense, and having all these bananas ends that seemed to be all over the place come together to form a cohesive, impactful, chilling ending was genius.

I wish I’d read this one as soon as it arrived, because I know it’d have made my “Best of 2019” posts, but better late than never! It’s up there with some of my favorite YA books of all time, and I’ll definitely be recommending this one for years. I’m automatically purchasing anything else the authors releases. Seriously, read it right away. It put me in a book slump because it was so good, and I’ve had to read my next two books by audiobook because the thought of grabbing another physical one is too much. 😂

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