I think the best way to describe this book is to go back to my old format (of about a dozen years ago) and talk about what I liked and disliked.
The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue is set at a Catholic boarding school on the edge of the ocean in England. Louisa has just arrived at the school as the book opens. As a scholarship recipient, she's quickly made an outcast. Most of the girls are wealthy and frown on the addition of scholarship students. But, Victoria is an outcast, herself, (for different reasons) and welcoming, if a bit strange. Victoria and Louisa become fast friends.
25 years later, a journalist is tasked with finding out what happened to Louisa after she and a young, handsome art teacher (upon whom pretty much everyone had a crush) vanished.
What I liked:
I liked the gothic feel of this Young Adult novel. It's sinister and tense, set in an older building with the fog from the nearby ocean adding atmosphere. I also liked the fact that the author successfully kept me guessing till the end of the novel.
What I disliked:
I wasn't sure of the right word to describe how I felt about The Temple House Vanishing till I read a couple of reviews and found it in someone else's description. So, with apologies for plagiarizing a single word, it's tedious. It dragged and was far too character-centric for my taste. Also, there was a lot of talk about the cleverness of the girls and their use of irony without such cleverness/irony showing up in their dialogue. Show don't tell, ya know.
Iffy on recommendation - If you like a character-driven gothic novel, you might love this and if you do buy it or check it out, it would make an excellent fall read. The atmospheric writing is on point for spooky season. I think if the book had been more plot-focused and less detailed about every thought and motion of the main characters I would have been more entertained. But I give the author credit for not giving away the ending and making so many alternatives possible that I couldn't help but keep reading. It's notable that slower-paced, character-driven novels are generally not my favorite.
TW: Suicide at the beginning of the story (not a spoiler), which is told by Louisa and the Journalist in alternating sections.
This was the last ARC I read before my break and I still have a few remaining so if you're a publisher, hang in there. I'll get to your book.
My thanks to Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill for the review copy.
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