Anna: Happy publication day to The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donahue! Thank you @algonquinbooks for sending me an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Set in a boarding school in an old Victorian house in Ireland, scholarship student Louisa quickly becomes enamored by classmate Victoria and their charismatic art teacher, Mr. Lavelle. Louisa struggles to fit in with her rich classmates, but as she becomes closer to Victoria and Mr. Lavelle, something even darker is underfoot.
25 years later, an unnamed journalist investigates Louisa’s disappearance. It’s widely accepted that Louisa willingly ran away with Mr. Lavelle, but as the journalist becomes more entangled with the case, it’s clear something much worse happened.
The Temple House Vanishing evokes major My Dark Vanessa and The Likeness vibes. This is a quick, smart, and atmospheric read that explores love, friendship, obsession, race, class, and the ways in which men in positions of power take advantage of young women. I did find the perspective from the journalist a little lacking and would have liked more character development there. We learn little about her own life, besides that she grew up on Louisa’s street and Louisa once babysat her. The only thing we know is that she is a workaholic. I thought something might happen with her intern, who gets a lot of dialogue, but that turns out to be a dead-end in the plot. Then there is also an artistic choice in the epilogue involving a ghost that I found a little strange and a bit cheesy.
But overall, I can’t say no to a spooky boarding school mystery, and this is another one of those.