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Rules for Vanishing
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Rules for Vanishing
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In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister—at all costs.Once a year,...
In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister—at all costs.Once a year,...
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  • In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister—at all costs.
    Once a year, a road appears in the forest. And at the end of it, the ghost of Lucy Gallows beckons. Lucy's game isn't for the faint of heart. If you win, you escape with your life. But if you lose....
    Sara's sister disappeared one year ago—and only Sara knows where she is. Becca went to find the ghost of Lucy Gallows and is trapped on the road that leads to her. In the sleepy town of Briar Glen, Lucy's road is nothing more than local lore. But Sara knows it's real, and she's going to find it.
    When Sara and her skeptical friends meet in the forest to search for Becca, the mysterious road unfurls before them. All they have to do is walk down it. But the path to Lucy is not of this world, and it has its own rules. Every mistake summons new horrors. Vengeful spirits and broken, angry creatures are waiting for them to slip, and no one is guaranteed safe passage. The only certainty is this: the road has a toll and it will be paid.
    Sara knows that if she steps onto the road, she might not come back. But Becca needs her.
    And Lucy is waiting.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book

    PART ONE

    The Game

    INTERVIEW

    SARA DONOGHUE

    May 9, 2017

    ASHFORD: I'm starting the recording now. This is the first interview with Sara Donoghue concerning the disappearances in Briar Glen, Massachusetts. Today is May 9, 2017. Present are Sara Donoghue and myself, Dr. Andrew Ashford. Thank you for joining us today, Miss Donoghue.

    SARA: You're welcome. I guess. I don't know what you expect me to tell you.

    ASHFORD: The truth, Miss Donoghue. I think you'll find we are some of the few people who are willing to hear it.

    SARA: So you believe me, then?

    ASHFORD: Is there a reason I shouldn't?

    Sara begins to laugh, a low sound that croaks in the back of her throat.

    ASHFORD: Miss Donoghue—

    Sara's laughter continues, her shoulders shaking. Her hands cover her face.

    ??: Pay attention.

    EXHIBIT A

    Text message received by all Briar Glen High School students on Monday, April 17, 2017

    DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHERE LUCY WENT?

    SHE WENT TO PLAY THE GAME.

    YOU CAN PLAY, TOO.

    FIND A PARTNER.

    FIND A KEY.

    FIND THE ROAD.

    YOU HAVE TWO DAYS.

    SARA DONOGHUE

    WRITTEN TESTIMONY

    1

    The message arrives overnight, and by Monday morning it's all anyone is talking about. People cluster around their phones, as if by reading the text again, comparing the identical messages, they might reveal some new clue about who sent them.

    "Hey, Sara! Do you want to play the game?" Tyler Martinez asks, lunging toward me as I walk inside, the first bell ringing. He waggles his eyebrows at me and swings away, laughing at his own joke. I cross my arms over my ribs and lean forward, as if pushing against a current.

    Whispers of Lucy are everywhere. And the game. People in clots, heads leaned together.

    I've timed things so that I arrive just before the bell, and the hallway is emptying out as the threat of tardy slips overwhelms the urge to gossip. A few stragglers give me odd looks. Odder than usual.I bet she sent it, I imagine them whispering. She's obsessed.

    The game. Lucy Gallows. And Wednesday is the anniversary. It doesn't take a genius. I'd probably blame me, too.

    I slide into first period and take my seat, as close to the back corner as I can get.

    "Hey. Sara." Trina sits at the group table in front of mine, and she has to twist around in her seat and lean to talk to me. Her blue eyes are piercing in their exquisite concern, her blonde hair swept up in a casual ponytail that looks more glamorous than anything I've managed since the days when she would sit behind me for hours, coercing my mousy hair into french braids and fishtails. "How are you doing?"

    "Fine," I mutter. I can't look her in the eye. Her expression is too painfully sympathetic. It would be one thing if it was a performance, but it's genuine. And it's there every time she looks at me, like she's worried that I'm going to crumple under the strain of my personal tragedies at any moment.

    "I don't think you did it," she says, leaning closer. Which means that people are already saying that I did.

    "I didn't."

    She nods slowly. "Don't let anyone give you crap for it," she says.

    "How do you suggest I stop them?" I ask. She flinches back a little, but she's spared the need to answer by the second bell, marking the beginning of class. She straightens in her seat. I slouch down as Mr. Vincent launches into his daily preamble, complete with the terrible joke he inflicts on us every day.

    "—and he says, 'Me? I'm a giant...

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2019
    What happened to Becca Donoghue? Sara Donoghue never believed the rumors that her sister, Becca, simply ran away from home with her boyfriend. Becca had been obsessed with Lucy Gallows, the ghost from the 1950s who allegedly haunts their town, and the mysterious road that Lucy traveled on before she disappeared. Before Becca vanished too, the last thing Sara overheard her say was "We know where the road is. We've got the keys. That's all we need to find her. I'm not backing down now. Not after everything we've done to get this close." As the one-year anniversary of Becca's disappearance approaches, Sara becomes desperate to discover what happened and how it may be related to the real Lucy. The setup is slow and complicated, with many diverse characters, relationships, and supernatural rules. While normally something to be celebrated, this diverse cast feels forced and inauthentic, like moons orbiting the main white protagonist, Sara (Becca is Asian--her ethnicity is never specified--and adopted). When the plot eventually picks up its pace, the story becomes quite engrossing and cleverly moves between its many narrators, characters, and plot twists. If readers can move past the long-winded and complicated setup, they will enjoy this mashup of The X-Files and the The Blair Witch Project, but those seeking a handy conclusion will likely be disappointed. A mixed bag for patient older teens. (Mystery. 15-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2019

    Gr 7 Up-Find a partner. Find a key. Find the road. Play the game. Sara's sister, Becca, did exactly that last year and hasn't been seen since. Now, the phantom of Lucy Gallows, the infamous girl who walked the mysterious forest road decades ago before disappearing, is calling Sara to play. To recover her sister, Sara and eight others heed Lucy's invitation. However, the road does not like to leave survivors, and while some are ready to tempt fate, the consequences of mistakes made on the path soon turn deadly. Marshall delivers a haunting tale about a childhood game that twists into a disturbing rescue mission. Told through written testimonies, video recordings, message transcripts, and interviews, Sara and her friends' attempt to save Becca becomes an insidious incident filled with eerie imagery and captivating revelations. As Sara's story unfolds, layers of uncertainty come to light, resulting in a cast of delightfully unreliable characters, whose intimate connections leave devastation when tragedy strikes. The cost of each choice Sara makes weighs heavily on her hazy memories, leaving readers to ponder how every action affects more than just a single person. VERDICT A fantastic addition for those who are building up their suspenseful supernatural collections.-Emily Walker, Lisle Library District, IL

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 16, 2019
    Local legend holds that the nearby woods are home to the ghost of Lucy Gallows, who vanished decades ago outside Briar Glen, Mass. While searching for Lucy, Sara Donoghue’s sister, Becca, disappeared a year earlier. Now, mysterious texts point Sara and her friends on the same harrowing journey in hopes of finding Becca. Traveling a supernatural road through a deadly darkness, they enter a world filled with myriad terrors and dangers, where breaking the rules leads to a horrible fate. In this chilling tale, Marshall (I Am Still Alive) ties together regional folklore, urban legends, and ghost stories to craft an exquisitely unsettling dark fantasy. Framed as a series of post-incident interviews and supplemented with found camera footage, videos, and texts, this multilayered, unpredictable nail-biter reveals the truth one fragment at a time. The characters, including queer, racially diverse, and variously abled teens, are well-developed, amplifying readers’ engagement in the high stakes. The nightmarish setting, frequent surprises, and inherent ambiguity will appeal to fans of Seanan McGuire’s books. Ages 12–up. Agent: Lisa Rodgers, JABberwocky Literary Agency.

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