Publisher: Algonquin Books + Workman Publishing
Release Date: July 06, 2021
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
An Irish Bestseller
Finalist for the Irish Book Awards’ Newcomer of the Year
Perched high atop a seaside cliff in Ireland, a lonely Victorian mansion is home to Temple House School. And at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.
Louisa is the new, brilliant scholarship student. Finding most of the other students at the all-girls Catholic boarding school as icy and unfamiliar as the drafty mansion, she forms a fierce bond with the intense and compelling Victoria, an outlier and student provocateur.
Their close bond is soon unsettled by the young, charismatic art teacher, Mr. Lavelle—igniting tension and obsession in the cloistered world of the school. Then one day, Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear.
There is no trace of either one. It’s the unsolved mystery that captivates the whole country. Year after year, the media revisit it, and the conspiracy theories persist. Now, on the twenty-fifth anniversary, a journalist—a woman who grew up on the same street as Louisa—delves into the past to write a series of articles and uncover the truth. She finds stories of jealousy and revenge, power and class. But will she find Louisa and Mr. Lavelle, too?
Because remember—at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.
Told through alternating points of view, Rachel Donohue’s debut novel skillfully, gradually, lets the reader into the hearts and minds of both Louisa and the determined reporter. This page-turner is perfect for fans of Elisabeth Thomas’s Catherine House or Kate Elizabeth Russell’s My Dark Vanessa.
It is hard to believe that The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue is a debut novel. This is a quick, gothic, and atmospheric read that caught my attention from the very first page and didn’t end the way I thought it would. I love anything set in a boarding school, and the setting in a remote area of Ireland really heightens the loneliness and sense of isolation in this novel. The book alternates between the viewpoint of Louisa in the past, and a journalist in the present who had gone to the same elementary school as Louisa, so they have a bit of a connection. The journalist’s viewpoint is very interesting as it is told entirely in first person just like Louisa, but you never find out what her name is. There is also a great prologue at the beginning that I ended up having to reread when I was done to get the full impact of what it was telling me. This was a very unique read and so was Donohue’s writing style. The synopsis says it is good for fans of Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas and I would 100% agree with that. They both have a unique premise and writing style, and I got the same vibes from both of them.
The audiobook of The Temple House Vanishing is narrated by Jennifer Fitzgerald & Clodagh Duggan, and while I was happy there were 2 narrators for the 2 different viewpoints, the audio itself was rather strange. Voices would randomly change along with the pitch of their voices, and I couldn’t tell if it was the 2 different narrators, or if 1 of them was just changing their voice to match a different character. Because of this, I would probably say to read this one as opposed to listening to it, but that didn’t actually take away from my enjoyment of the novel as it sometimes can. And I also thought their voices did fit the story and the characters, so that part was great. There is definitely some obsession going on in this one, and I was really intrigued by the dynamic between Louisa and Victoria. I really enjoyed both points of view, and I was also really happy with the way they are formatted in the novel. This is a promising start from Donohue, and I will be looking forward to hopefully reading more from her in the future!
Thank you to the publisher and Libro.fm for my advanced listening and reader copies. All opinions and thoughts are my own.