Rules for Vanishing – Kate Alice Marshall

Spoilers Ahead!

FIND THE ROAD. FIND THE GATES. FIND THE GIRL.

That was one seriously compulsive read! I just-one-more-chaptered my way through this book and I’m left feeling slightly panicked, knowing I almost didn’t read it at all. Too many books arrived at the library at once so some will have to be sent back unread. I know me and if they are returned unread, no matter how noble my intentions, they will disappear into the ‘I’m going to read that one day’ void.

It was only because this book was almost due and someone else wanted it so I was unable to renew it that I gave it a try. I’m so glad I did because it was so much better than I hoped, but I’m now thinking about all of the other books I could be getting to know and am having bookish anxiety about all of the potential winners that may slip through my grasp. I need to read all the books!

All I hear are the last words my sister spoke, muttering into her phone. On April 18, one year ago. We know where the road is. We’ve got the keys. That’s all we need to find her. I’m not backing down now. Not after everything we’ve done to get this close.

Everyone in Briar Glen, MA knows the legend of Lucy Gallows. On 19 April, 1953, 15 year old Lucy Callow (yep, her name morphed a little during the creation of the legend) went missing in the forest. Legend says that one day each year a path appears in the forest. This time last year Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared.

On 17 April, 2017, every Briar Glen High School student received the text message.

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHERE LUCY WENT? SHE WENT TO PLAY THE GAME. YOU CAN PLAY, TOO. FIND A PARTNER. FIND A KEY. FIND THE ROAD. YOU HAVE TWO DAYS.

Sara is determined to find her sister and in two days she will play the game. Joined by eight others, Sara will seek out “The Massachusetts Ghost Road”.

I know Becca didn’t run away. That leaves one possibility and one impossibility, and I long for the impossible. Because if she isn’t dead, if she’s only been taken, she can be brought back.

13 steps.
7 gates.
9 potential victims players.

“Don’t break the rules. Bad things happen when you break the rules.”

This book includes interviews, written testimony, emails, transcripts of messages, phone calls and videos, descriptions of photos and other evidence pertinent to file number 74 of The Ashford Files. Naturally, because this was file 74, I wanted unrestricted access to all of the preceding files as well as any that have been created since.

Sometimes narratives that rely on multiple formats to tell the story cause me to disconnect from both its characters and storyline, but here it completely sucked me in. I kept finding myself planning on putting the book down at the end of a chapter of written testimony, only to need to read the transcript that followed, which then made me need to read the following chapter to see how it all fit together. Compulsive and so much fun!

There are things I am not supposed to tell you. There are things I don’t remember. There are things I don’t know.

I couldn’t get enough information about the gates and the paths between them. At times I got the sense I was experiencing what I expect a hallucinogen would feel like. As I read I kept thinking that I would love to see these strange visuals outside of my imagination and was thrilled to read an article that told me there’s going to be a movie! I can’t wait to see it!

“But the monsters aren’t the only thing you have to be afraid of here.”

My main frustration showed up right at the end of the book; I definitely need to know what it was that Miranda gave to Ashford. Hopefully the movie or perhaps another book detailing another Ashford File will give me this much needed closure.

While I read a library copy of this book I definitely foresee a copy of my own and a reread in the not too distant future.

“lt’s coming.”

Content warnings include mention of attempted suicide and family violence.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister – at all costs.

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. 

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