Title: The Temple House Vanishing
Author: Rachel Donahue
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication date: July 6th, 2021
Perched high atop a seaside cliff in Ireland, a lonely Victorian mansion is home to Temple House School. And at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.
Louisa is the new, brilliant scholarship student. Finding most of the other students at the all-girls Catholic boarding school as icy and unfamiliar as the drafty mansion, she forms a fierce bond with the intense and compelling Victoria, an outlier and student provocateur.
Their close bond is soon unsettled by the young, charismatic art teacher, Mr. Lavelle—igniting tension and obsession in the cloistered world of the school. Then one day, Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear.
There is no trace of either one. It’s the unsolved mystery that captivates the whole country. Year after year, the media revisit it, and the conspiracy theories persist. Now, on the twenty-fifth anniversary, a journalist—a woman who grew up on the same street as Louisa—delves into the past to write a series of articles and uncover the truth. She finds stories of jealousy and revenge, power and class. But will she find Louisa and Mr. Lavelle, too?
Because remember—at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.
Told through alternating points of view, Rachel Donohue’s debut novel skillfully, gradually, lets the reader into the hearts and minds of both Louisa and the determined reporter. Th is page-turner is perfect for fans of Elisabeth Thomas’s Catherine House or Kate Elizabeth Russell’s My Dark Vanessa.
Set in Ireland, The Temple House Vanishing is a dark story of a teacher and his student who went missing 25 years ago mysteriously from their private, Catholic school. This story is told in alternating POV and timelines, from present day with a journalist and 25 years ago with Louisa, the student who went missing. At times the switching timelines and POVs was confusing, but for the most part it was easy to follow once it was clear what was happening.
I desperately love private school, dark academia mysteries. Something about the boarding school/private school vibes just sit well with me. This book was appropriately dark and twisty. However, a lot of it fell a bit flat for me and it wasn’t hard to figure out what the ending would be. For a mystery it wasn’t exactly… mysterious. It had all the elements of unreliable narrators, paranoia, unrequited love, etc but lacked a deep mystery that would keep me enthralled.
I do like some nuances that the author threw in, like the epilogue and it’s POV, the beginning part that sets the tone of the story, and the main villain. There are definite positive qualities to this point, so if you are a dark academia, mystery buff I would recommend giving it a try.
Thank you to Algonquin and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
Happy reading, folks!