Author: Heidi Julavits
Title: The Vanishers
Description (source): Julia Severn, a student at a psychics’ training school known as The Workshop, seems to be cursed by one of her professors. Meanwhile, she becomes involved with research on an avant-garde filmmaker of the 1980’s who may have a link to Julia’s deceased mother. The “Vanishers” of the title are those who have disappeared from the lives of their loved ones, either via suicide, or by simply vanishing—although they may choose to leave a video for their families to watch.
Review source: Netgalley
Plot: This book was strange. The overall theme was women’s relationships, and Julia encounters several strange women—Alwyn, Madame Ackermann, Dominique Vargas, and, perhaps, her own mother.
Characters: Nearly all of the characters in the book are women, and the book is really about how women, especially mothers and daughters, relate, or don’t relate, to each other. I didn’t get the feeling that I really knew any of the characters, though, even the narrator.
Writing style: The book is sort of surreal—things happen that really aren’t explained, other than that the book is set in some kind of alternate universe in which psychic powers are real. There are some other differences as well, but they aren’t ever really explained. Everything seems sort of dream-like. If you’ve read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, it’s that same sort of feeling.
Audience: literary fiction. From the description, though, it sounded like it could be women’s fiction, paranormal, something of the sort, but it’s not upbeat and cohesive enough.
Wrap-up: The book was an interesting read, but not riveting or especially rewarding. So I’ll give it 3/5*