Published by Simon and Schuster
Publication date 12 January 2017
Source – review copy
“A story of intrigue and revenge, perfect for fans of Jane Eyre and Fingersmith, The Miniaturist and Burial Rites.
On top of the Yorkshire Moors, in an isolated spot carved out of the barren landscape, lies White Windows, a house of shadows and secrets. Here lives Marcus Twentyman, a hard-drinking but sensitive man, and his sister, the brisk widow, Hester.
When Annaleigh, a foundling who has fled her home in London, finds herself at the remote house, in service to the Twentymans, she discovers all is not as it seems behind closed doors.
Isolated and lonely, Annaleigh is increasingly drawn to her master. And as their relationship intensifies, she soon realises that her movements are being controlled and her life is no longer her own. Slowly she is drawn into a web of intrigue and darkness, and soon she must face her fears if she is to save herself.”
Annaleigh Calvert has to leave behind all she has ever known in London and travel to Yorkshire. There, at White Windows, nestled on the Moors, she is to be the housekeeper to the Twentymans, Marcus, the lonesome master and his widow sister Hester. But Annaleigh soon realises that the inhabitants of White Windows are not as they first seem and White Windows may not be her escape after all.
Sophia Tobin has created a wonderfully compelling story, one that wraps itself around you much like a moorland mist. All the characters are well drawn, each adding a layer to the story. Annaleigh is the focus, a mix of a woman willing to work hard, to be subservient but with a will that is at odds with her place in society, who’s anger and strength lies barely dormant just under the surface. She finds herself faced with challenges, conflicted between her opinions of the Twentymans. By failing to take heed of her misconceptions she changes the course of her life for ever. Marcus Twentyman is a contradictory figure. Often fleeting, his presence felt rather than seen, he is outwardly charming but has a malevolent air, one that runs throughout the novel. Then there is Thomas. He was a wonderful character, a seemingly a minor character but one who is pivotal to the story who perfectly juxtaposes Marcus.
As for the moors, they are as central to the story as any character. Sophia Tobin vividly portrays the landscape, so easy was it to imagine White Windows, the village of Becket Bridge and the surrounding wilds of the moorland, with it’s beauty and danger being the perfect metaphor for the story of Annaleigh.
Sometimes a book works it’s magic on you in the first few pages. It’s voice resonates and appeals to the reader in a way that the story envelopes you, pulling you along until the last page. This is one of those books. I often say that stories have atmospheres, a world that the reader in drawn into, that is unique to the author. The atmosphere of The Vanishing is encompassing and compelling, drawing you in and meaning the reader is soon invested in Annaleigh’s story.
The book is described as perfect for fans of Jane Eyre and The Miniaturist. However in The Vanishing there are no friendly staff to befriend the new servant and the madness is not contained in the attic but walks freely amongst the moors. If you aren’t a fan of either of the previously mentioned novels don’t let that put you off. The Vanishing is a highly original tale, one which takes a surprising and dark turn.
This is an engrossing and wonderfully gothic tale, that soon works its magic on the reader, transporting them to another time and to a gripping story. This is the first novel by Sophia Tobin I have read. I will have to read her other novels soon.