Maggie is not very happy that she and her parents have moved from their home in Chicago to a ramshackle old house they inherited in quiet Door County, Wisconsin. When they arrive in the small town of Gill Creek in the fall of Maggie’s senior year, the town is especially deserted with all of the summer tourists cleared out for the season. Maggie knows they don’t have much choice, due to financial problems, so she tries to make the best of their new life as her parents homeschool her and she waits for the time when she can leave for college.
Gill Creek becomes a little more interesting once Maggie meets her neighbors. Carefree, outgoing Pauline lives right next door and welcomes Maggie with open arms, glad to have a new friend her own age nearby. Through the woods lives quiet Liam who’s been best friends with Pauline since they were little kids. The three teens become inseparable, though their friendship is eventually strained as romance and love divide their happy threesome.
Meanwhile, teen girls in the area keep dying under mysterious circumstances. Police have no clues as to the identity of what now appears to be a serial killer on the loose. Teens and parents alike become more and more frightened by the increasing horror invading their quiet town. Pauline’s parents send her away to stay with a relative, leaving Maggie and Liam in Gill Creek without their friend. Tension builds as more dead bodies are found in the region.
Through all of this friendship, romance, and mystery, there is a mysterious thread running through the novel. Many chapters begin with vague and puzzling statements from what seems to be some sort of supernatural entity, perhaps connected to the rumors Pauline mentioned that Maggie’s house is haunted. Who is this disembodied being and what does it know about the murder spree?
I listened to The Vanishing Season on audio and was pulled right in by the narration by likable Maggie and the mysterious supernatural presence. I noticed that some reviewers on Amazon were disappointed that the novel isn’t a typical mystery or romance. That is true – it doesn’t follow any typical genre lines but instead contains elements of mystery, supernatural, realistic fiction, and romance all rolled into one intriguing story. So, throw away your expectations and immerse yourself in this unusual story that reveals some surprises but doesn’t neatly resolve all of the questions it poses. I recommend the audio that added to the mounting tension and spooky atmosphere of the story – this one is perfect for October!