A Place for Vanishing

Delacorte. Jan. 2024. 464p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593382219.
Gr 7 Up–A tale of a classic and bug-filled haunted house. Libby, who is recovering from her recent suicide attempt and subsequent bipolar III diagnosis, moves with her mom and little sister Vivi to her mother’s childhood home. The moment they move in, they notice that there are many live bugs (despite two fumigations) and detailed bug-themed mosaics and stained glass windows in every room. At first, Libby blames her mother’s strange behavior on her own recent mental health crisis but as she learns that the house has been the site of seances and mysterious disappearances, she starts to believe something is very wrong. Along with Flynn, Libby’s love interest who can channel ghosts, Libby and Vivi must battle the evil spirits that seek to take over their bodies and souls. The horror elements of this story are very well drawn, touching on psychological horror, body horror, and especially fear of bugs. It’s also unique that Libby and Vivi are both donor-conceived, by donors of different races. The story dwells on Libby’s feelings of worthlessness and “brokenness” as she blames herself for her illness. This may put off some readers, or the realistic depiction may be what draws other readers in. While it rates high on the horror scale, the novel has light swearing and a first-kiss romance, and Libby’s experience with alcohol is related as a cautionary tale.
VERDICT A good scary read for those prepared for the mental health content.

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