Review and Giveaway of The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The Vanishing SeasonThe Vanishing Season
By: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Release Date: July 1st 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: ARC from Publisher

A review copy was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter’s come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I’ve watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I’m the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I’m tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I’m tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don’t know why. I think it’s because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.

My Thoughts:
I have to mention how lovely the hardcover of this book is; the colors, type and artwork are stunning. For what lies within my biggest piece of advice it to disregard that above summary. To me, it didn’t give the gist or feel of Anderson’s story. The Vanishing Season was much more a coming of age story between two young girls than a haunting thriller.

Jodi Lynn Anderson’s writing style was absolutely beautiful; I loved the setting and the overall aura she’s able to insert into her descriptions. Door County was beautifully depicted and was the type of setting that feels like a character. Anderson’s ability to pull the reader into the setting and have me shivering from her cold weather descriptions was incredible. As with Tiger Lily, I loved how atmospheric the writing was. Even with the heavy dose of weather and scenery the story still moved at fast pace. Once I got into the story I wanted to read more; it was very much a ‘just one more chapter’ type of book.

Going into this I had been warned that the summary wasn’t really that effective at conveying this novel so I wasn’t disappointed when the serial killer aspect was only marginally part of the story.  This book never succeeded in being haunting or thrilling for me to the level the summary described. Though some sections had my heart pounding and me anticipating what was to come nothing ever really delivered. For me, it felt like a lot of the buildup stuttered out and left me wanting a bit more.

The Vanishing Season was written in third person yet I was able to connect to the main character, Maggie. I loved watching her adjust to her new world living in a small town, on the edge of a lake. Where I had difficulty was in her parents. Some of their decision making was vastly naïve and honestly not what I’d ever expect a parent to do. Below I’ll tell you one example-be warned that it is a spoiler to some degree.


There was an incident where the parents go out of town on the eve of a large winter storm leaving their daughter home alone. They’ve been watching her struggle and deal with some issues in her personal life, yet leave her alone in an old house. This could be believable but add in that there was a serial killer on the loose targeting girls the same age as their daughter?! I could never imagine a responsible parent doing that. For me, this felt so much like a plot device.

End Spoiler

The character’s relationships are the focus of this novel. For the most part I thought they were done fairly well. Though I didn’t agree with the decisions made I could understand why the characters made them for the most part (except for that bit in my spoiler section). I wanted to shake Maggie more than a few times and really wished her parents would have inserted themselves a bit more. When they were involved they had great dialog and it was clear that they loved their daughter.

I’ve yet to mention the two other main characters, Liam and Pauline. Both were well rounded and vividly created. They felt incredibly real and fleshed out, though boy were they hard to like a lot of the time. It was painful at times watching in slow motion outcomes I could see coming a mile away. I can’t go into more without giving away the majority of the story. Overall I felt that Pauline was overall very stereotypical and I felt like I had read a very similar character in the past. Liam was more unique and I found his position in town to be very interesting. I felt like I had his number fairly early and was sad to see things play out how I imagined they would.

Final Thoughts:
It is so hard to give this a star rating or to really express or answer the question of if I liked it on the whole. I found it beautifully written and addicting yet closing the book I felt a bit hollowed out and disappointed. Honestly, not a whole lot happens within this book. There was a plot but for the most part it left me disappointed and rather melancholy. It was a beautiful story yet so horrible at the same time. Would I recommend this? That depends on what you are looking for. If you want a ghost story or thriller- look elsewhere. If you want a beautifully written, coming of age story that will make you feel a bit bleh but sort of dazzled at the same time-then you might enjoy this.

If this book sounds interesting to you I’m giving away my ARC. This is US only (unless you want to pay for shipping).
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. says

    I have heard quite a few reviews that were less than enthusiastic about this one, and reading yours simply cements my choice of skipping this one. If it would have been a thriller or ghost story I still would have given it a chance, but coming of age story that lefts you feeling hollowed out and bleh? Sorry, but not in the right emotional state to subject me to that!
    What a shame, cause the cover is beyond gorgeous!
    Thanks for a great honest review Kristen!

    • says

      The cover is beyond beautiful. It’s strange because I can’t say I regret reading it because I found it fast paced and I did love the writing. But the story…yeah…it didn’t leave me feeling warm and cozy. It left me feeling pretty sad though I don’t think it was intended to do that?

  2. says

    Looks good! I can’t wait to check it out. I like to always read for myself…the individual reader may always find some other connection, but I really appreciate your thoughts here!

    • says

      I completely agree! Even though aspects didn’t work for me I would still recommend it and I’m keeping the Hardcover for my collection. I feel that maybe if I read it at a different point in my life it’ll hit better. It might be that type of book.

  3. says

    Nothing is worse than a deceiving synopsis. Thanks for the heads up. I still think I’ll probably add this to my list, but I would have been really disappointed if I didn’t already know to expect it to be very different.

    –Katie at Paperback Planes

    • says

      You should! I was warned that it wasn’t a thriller and that helped me enjoy it more than if I had gone into thinking otherwise. As always the writing is beautiful. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. says

    Meh. I hated this book, lol 😀 But I’m still glad you liked it al ittle. <3 Great review sweetie 🙂 I do get why you liked it. But yeah. It did not work for me at all 🙁 But I do agree that this is a gorgeous cover ;p

    • says

      Is it bad I’m sort of happy you hated it? Only because when I read it I thought that this would be a book you hated. It really was not for you in any way.

  5. says

    I had a hard time rating this, too. Like you, I found a lot of it unbelievable, and I think in the end, the only thing I felt was really fantastic was the prose…and as much a I love beautiful writing (and I loved TIGER LILY!), that wasn’t enough for me. I wish this had gone through a few more edits to tighten up and bulk up the story.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • says

      I agree, it was very difficult to get a clear reading on how I felt about this book. I was left feeling so meh after I finished that I knew something had gone wrong. Anderson’s writing is beautiful though so I can’t regret having read it. I agree that some more edits would have helped.

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