Review: Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Blurb: Once a year, a road appears in the woods at midnight and the ghost of Lucy Gallows beckons, inviting those who are brave enough to play her game. If you win, you escape with your life. But if you lose…

It’s almost a year since Becca went missing. Everyone else has given up searching for her, but her sister, Sara, knows she disappeared while looking for Lucy Gallows. Determined to find her, Sara and her closest friends enter the woods. But something more sinister than ghosts lurks on the road, and not everyone will survive.


Title: Rules for Vanishing

Author: Kate Alice Marshall

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Fiction, YA, Horror



Once a year, at midnight, a mysterious road appears in the woods. Rumour has it that this is the road that Lucy Gallows wandered off on so many years before, getting lost in whatever lay beyond. Becca’s sister took the same road. And she never came back. One year on and Becca and her friends are determined to find out what really lies at the end of the road, but will they all make it back alive?

I’m always on the look out for YA horror novels and the premise of this one really caught my eye! There were so many twists and turns that I was anxiously trying to figure out what everything meant and what was going to happen next. We don’t really get to know the characters, other than Becca, super well but they all have their different parts to play in getting the group along the road and advancing the plot. Becca, on the other hand, we get to know more. The story is told from her point of view and her determination to find her sister, no matter the cost, comes across throughout.

The descriptions of the various settings and goings on were probably my favourite thing about this book. The atmosphere that comes across is tense and had me on the edge of my seat. Marshall is brilliant at creating visual landscapes with her words that really transport you to the world inside the pages. The group travels through towns with eye-eating ravens, swamps with monsters in the mists and a house full of horrors that stalk the halls – during each of which I was right there with the characters. There’s also a bit of body horror in there too which was described in a way that made my skin crawl – in the best way! I’m not usually one to be put off with things like that so I found that it really added to the terrifying atmosphere of the road.

As for what I disliked, it was mainly that there were times when I got completely lost. It might be just me, in the sense that I wasn’t paying enough attention, but I found myself rereading sections a few times. Without giving too much away, there’s a point in the story when one of the characters stops being mentioned – this really threw me off, thinking that I’d missed something. It turned out that I hadn’t and it was just part of the build up to a big reveal but it definitely had me putting the book down in frustration for a while. I’d also add that if you’re not a fan of body horror, there might be some scenes which you don’t enjoy. It’s nothing hugely graphic but just a note for anyone who steer clear of it.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for some good YA horror, or even just a spooky read for Halloween!


Rating: 3.5/5

Recommend?: Yes

Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!

You can always find me over on Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail ðŸ˜Œ

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