Desperate to leave London and make a fresh start elsewhere, Annaleigh jumps at the opportunity to become the housekeeper for Marcus Twentyman, owner of White Windows, and his sister, Hester.
Making the journey north from London, she is initially surprised at the house’s location out on the Yorkshire moors, some miles away from the nearest town or village. Undaunted, she is determined to fulfil her role as best she can, and she sets about her new life with gusto.
As she gets to know a few of the locals, she begins to have some doubts. What happened to Kate, the previous housekeeper, who ran away one night leaving all of her possessions behind her? And why are so many people warning her not to get too close to the Twentymans?
Despite her best intentions, she becomes increasingly drawn towards Marcus, and slowly begins to realise that White Windows may not be the sanctuary she was hoping for.
The Vanishing begins with a small prologue, and it’s one that immediately grabbed my attention with this wonderful little snippet of conversation:
‘If we take his life,’ she said, ‘we had best do it quickly.’
‘Madam,’ I said, ‘there is no “if”.’
The novel then moves back a year to when Annaleigh first arrived at White Windows, and the reader slowly begins to understand the situation that she finds herself in, and how she gets to the point where she is willing to take another persons life. And whose life it is. And what a journey it is. There are some books that are so enthralling that you just have to keep reading, and for me The Vanishing is one of them. I couldn’t read this quickly enough – I had to know what happened to Annaleigh and why she felt the need to avenge herself in this way.
Annaleigh is a great character – she comes across as being as strong, feisty and independent, and yet there’s also an air of vulnerability about her, as much as she tries to hide it. And whilst she doesn’t always make the best choices – indeed, there were times when I wanted to scream “What are you doing!?” at her – I was always in her corner, wanting her to succeed.
I loved the setting of The Vanishing, and Tobin evokes all of the gothic splendour of novels such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. And White Windows has just as many secrets as Thornfield Hall, albeit very different ones to those that Jane stumbles upon.
As always, I don’t want to spoil the novel for other readers, but the ending of The Vanishing came as something of a surprise to me. I was expecting a certain outcome, and so I was pleasantly surprised when it took a different path.
This is an engaging, multi-layered story, and one that I think will appeal to fans of The Miniaturist. I absolutely loved it, and I’ll be recommending it to lots of people when it’s published next year.
The Vanishing will be published on 12 January 2017 by Simon & Schuster. Many thanks to Jessica Barrett for the ARC.