Murder Mystery May?: A Review of The Night They Vanished by Vanessa Savage
Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.
Today, I bring you a very special review. Today I bring you a review on The Night They Vanished by Vanessa Savage which released just yesterday May 3, 2022.
Yes, this review is brought to you by Novel Suspects Insider’s Club. They aren’t paying me for my review, they just sent me the book for free. A huge thank you goes out to them and Grand Central Publishing for sending me an advanced copy of this book. It truly means a lot to me that someone wants to send me books prior to their release.
The Night They Vanished is my second dive into Vanessa Savage’s canon. I have read The Woman in the Dark, but I have not reviewed it. Truthfully, I wasn’t a fan of Savage's debut novel. I also forgot that I read said novel prior to reading her latest. So long story short, I have a mixed bag of thoughts and feelings regarding Vanessa Savage’s writing and The Night They Vanished.
So on that note, let’s get to the synopsis. As always, a spoiler alert is in order; you’ve been warned. Also, a quick content warning. The Night They Vanished features an abusive relationship between father and child. Spoiler alert, the father in this story is a massive asshole and I hate him. I’m not going to talk about him in this review, but know that he exists and is a holy terror.
The Night They Vanished is told in the dual POV of two sisters. Hanna, the older sister, has finally got her life on track. She had a hard time 14-years prior to the start of the novel. And in those 14-years, she has come to the conclusion that she’s better off without her family. You see, there was a major incident those some odd years ago. An incident that turned everyone, even her own family, against her. Leaving home at sixteen was the best choice for Hanna.
Then there is Sasha, Hanna’s baby sister. Sasha never really got the chance to know Hanna as the latter left when she was extremely young. But thanks to Hanna, Sasha grew up in the strictest of households. She’s not allowed to have a cell phone, nor is she allowed to use a computer even for school work; basically, no technology is allowed in this household. Sasha is also not allowed out of the house on her own. She pretty much goes to school and that’s it. All this to say she’s the outcast of her high school. She’s obviously going to rebel someway, and that way is to create a fake Facebook account using an old photo of her sister.
This is where things get odd. Sasha begins receiving some disturbing messages on her account, and I’m not talking about the all too common sexual harassment women receive on the site, I’m talking I Know What You Did Last Summer style messages. Messages that alarm and scare her. Then Hanna comes across her family’s home on a true crime site which claims the house is the site of a brutal triple homicide. The police are sent to investigate, but no one is found at the house. In fact, the house is abandoned. Hanna’s family has simply disappeared, and it’s seemingly connected to what occurred those 14-years ago.
Good premise. Love the premise. I wish I could fully decide if I enjoyed or disliked this book though! My feelings on the matter kept flip-flopping back and forth. There were times I found the writing bland and vague while other times I found myself engrossed in the story. Like, I wanted to know what would happen next, but at other times, things felt incredibly repetitive and slow moving.
The vagueness and repetitive nature of this novel was definitely the worst part. Right off the back, Vanessa Savage keeps hinting at the dark secret Hanna is keeping. Readers do no learn about what occurred 14-years prior to the start of the novel until the halfway mark. Yes, this is to be expected. This is not information that’s going to be given out automatically; readers have to work for it at least a tiny bit. But it’s not set up well. It comes across as a cheesy teen show where there’s a new kid with a mysterious past and everyone starts spreading rumors. Yeah, it has that vibe to it.
Vanessa Savage also loves to play the Pronoun Game; especially when it comes to Hanna’s secret. The main characters, specifically Hanna, can only refer to things, events, and people by using pronouns. I had no idea who or what the characters were referring to for a decent portion of the novel. It gets to the point where it’s irritating more than anything else.
The issues do not end here. The next issue, and final one I shall bring up, lies in one of the characters. Meet Adam, Hanna’s blind date turned boyfriend…? I don’t know, this relationship is never properly defined. I think they’re officially together by the end, but don’t quote me on that. Anyway, Hanna gets set up on a blind date with Adam at the beginning of the book. He has no purpose in this story whatsoever, he simply exists. He may have had purpose in one draft of the novel, but he has none in the copy I have. I don’t even want to call him a red-herring because it’s too obvious that he is one.
I really don’t have anything else to say about this one. Everything else is simply okay. I don’t have strong feelings about this book one way or the other. So on that note, I shall bid you all adieu. Thank you once again to Novel Suspects Insider’s Club and Grand Central Publishing for sending me a copy of this book. Anyway, I’ll see you all next week with another review.
Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.