Book Review: Rules for Vanishing

RULES FOR VANISHING | Kate Alice Marshall
09.24.2019 | Viking Books/Penguin Teen
Rating: 4/5 stars


Once a year a path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons someone to come and find her. Are you willing to walk along this mysterious path filled with traps to find a lost girl? What happens to those who never make it out?

Exactly one year has passed since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared without a trace. Local cops believe she ran away with her boyfriend, but Sara is convinced she is lost somewhere in the woods after traveling the path to find Lucy. Sara has spent much of the last year feeling lost. Her friends no longer seem to like her and appear to almost be afraid of her. When a mysterious text message comes through inviting Sara and her estranged friends to play the game and find Lucy Gallows they decide to band together and let fate decide if this is a hoax or the local legend is true. Can Sara and her friends save Becca or is she lost forever?


RULES FOR VANISHING is the first YA horror/paranormal/mystery book I have picked up in ages and I’m so happy this one found its way to me! I had an absolute blast reading this book and following along with Sara and her group of friends on the hunt for missing Becca. 

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a massive sucker for a story surrounding any local legend or lore. I knew walking into RULES FOR VANISHING that the story centered around the tale of Lucy Gallows and her path in the woods. What I didn’t know and wasn’t prepared for were all the intricate happenings that this group of friends would meet along the path. I don’t want to give away anything about the story because I truly feel that Marshall laid out a wonderful path to the grand reveal, but I can’t help wanting to gush about my favorite traps along the road. I’ll leave it with: this path has a mind of its own, it doesn’t forgive if you don’t follow the rules, and it will not make it easy for you to leave.


If the premise of this book isn’t instantly selling you, let the design and format of the book do the work! This book is compiled in a faux-documentary style with excerpts from interviews, video footage, text message conversations, etc. Marshall smartly mixes these alternate narratives with first person retellings from Sara, who is leading the reader through her journey to find Becca. I loved how these supplemental materials added a new aspect to the story, showing the reader events through the eyes of Sara’s friends. They also work to keep the reader on their toes by progressing the story in an accelerated manner. There’s no way you’re going to read a chapter of the story from Sara then an excerpt of video footage that contradicts what she’s telling the reader and not want to keep pushing through.

If you’re worried about picking up this title because it falls into the YA genre and that’s not your thing, don’t be! Speaking as a reader who doesn’t frequent the genre, this book blew me away! I absolutely could not put it down and I was immediately invested in the plot. The book is suspenseful, creepy, and makes you question everything. If you’re looking for a spooky read, put this one on your TBR immediately!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: A huge thank you to Penguin Teen and Viking Books for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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