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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, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her--and who won't make it out of the woods?

It's been exactly one year since Sara's sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn't know whether her former friends no longer like her...or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to "play the game" and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca--before she's lost forever. And even though she's hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends--and their cameras--following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.

416 pages, Paperback

First published September 24, 2019

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About the author

Kate Alice Marshall

13 books1,219 followers
Kate Alice Marshall is the author of young adult and middle grade novels, including I AM STILL ALIVE, RULES FOR VANISHING, and THIRTEENS.

She lives outside of Seattle with her husband, two dogs named Vonnegut and Octavia, and two kids. They all conspire to keep her on her toes.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,939 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,127 reviews39.2k followers
July 31, 2022

Retrieved from the cell phone of Nilufer the redhead reviewer

Recorded December 2, 02: 46 a.m.

The view is neat. A man called himself “Husband dearest” throws the book from the window and running out of the living room, screaming at the same time. Finally he is hiding himself under the kitchen table (he couldn’t fit under the table because he loves sweets and his wife’s lack of culinary skills forces him eat more junk food! Everybody thinks he’s 8 months pregnant for 13 years- you got it right, they’re still alive after 13 years marriage!)

Husband dearest shortly HD- (still sobbing) Oh God! This crazy redhead calling herself my beautiful, sophisticated wife forced me to read that book. It’s scarier than combination of Paranormal Activity, Blair Witch Project, Silent Hill, Cardi B’s laughter and my wife so called sophisticated genius’ dancing moves (of course I don’t mention her horrifying singing. We’re banned from entire karaoke bars in the US)! So yess, this evil woman made me read this book about a girl named Sara looking for her mysteriously missing sister Becca in the haunted woods with eight other friends. I’m so sorry for those teenagers! I’m so sorry what they’ve been through…Oh my god… What’s that smell? Oh thankfully this is coming from my so called brilliant cook wife’s beans and rice she’d made for the dinner so I didn’t sh*t myself after reading this!!! Oh no crazy readhead found me ! Oh no! She wants me to read more ! No! No way Jose! Stay away from me! No do not touch my chocolates you evil woman!



December 3, 11 a.m.

MIL: My boy is chickensh*t! This book is breathtaking, unique and this year’s best horror book! I enjoyed so much.

NILUFER’S SHRINK: Okay mother-in-law sweetest, you don’t have to read Nilufer’s review cards. Please tell your own opinions about this book.

MIL: OMG! Thank you so much! This book is soooooo scary! This is scarier than all Breaking bad seasons which I watch it with my daughter in law and share her Chardonnay. I know she was mad at me for drinking her good stuff and eating her entire cheese plate. I think she punished me for giving this book as early Christmas gift and she forces me read it in exchange a delicious charcuterie plate. (Oh boy, this so yummy! This girl cannot cook but she has amazing taste in everything. She married with my son, right? Atta girl!) So yes, Walter White is not in danger but my daughter in law Nilufer IS THE DANGER. Oh boy! I think I will put this book in the freezer like Friends’ Joey had done to “The Shining”

I’m back my friends. As like my mother in law read my words before: This is the best horror/paranormal fiction I’ve read at this year. Lost sister, seven gates, songs, puzzles, horrific experiences, body snatchers are the delicious horrifying, spooky elements of this book. I’m not gonna give any spoilers. I’m true horror fan! This book will make me up all night (on the bright side I’m not gonna listen to the concerto of my husband dearest because he still cries and I think he is not gonna sleep till the end of 21th century!) but it is really worth it! If you don’t like anything horrific, stunning like this please stay away from this like avoiding a plague!
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,469 reviews9,352 followers
December 14, 2022

A haunted wood, a mysterious road and a legend of a missing girl; those buzzwords drew me to Rules for Vanishing.

While this book did contain all of those aspects, it also contained so much more.

Honestly, I fear a good portion of it went over my head. After the conclusion, there's a lot I am still confused about.

Told through interviews, written statements and found footage, this story follows teenager, Sara, whose older sister, Becca, has been missing for the past year.

Through various mixed media sources, you learn of Sara's quest to find Becca and the people who help her on that mission.

This book reminded me a lot of Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl, mixed with Jim Henson's The Labyrinth.

I did listen to the audiobook and unfortunately, I think that had a negative impact on my overall enjoyment.

Honestly, the audio was hard to follow. There are a lot of characters and they were hard to keep track of through that medium.

Pair that with the dream-like quality of the events that occur on the road and I felt confused throughout the entire middle portion.

I think if I had read the physical copy, it would have been easier to follow along with the character dialogue, thus eliminating at least some of the uncertainty.

Overall, however, I think this is a solid YA Horror novel with an incredibly dark and spooky premise.

It certainly solidified my belief that you must always beware of hitchhikers on the road!

Update: I purchased a hard copy of this and am planning to reread it in 2021.

I have thought about this story a lot since I originally read it and really want to see if reading a hard copy will help me to understand more of it. I'm looking forward to diving back in!

Profile Image for jessica.
2,506 reviews30.9k followers
October 1, 2019
its getting to that time of year where im feeling a little spooky and brave enough for some horror stories. ive seen a few reviews praising this for its creepiness, so i was looking forward to picking it up.

if theres one thing this book has going for it, its the format the story is told. ive never seen ‘the blair witch project,’ but im familiar that it follows a firsthand account style of narration. i really like how this book adopts that with a collection of text printouts, emails, video transcripts, interview recordings, etc. it adds a very exciting and tangible layer to the storytelling, and i think thats very cool.

however, the subject material just wasnt for me. at first, i pegged it down to me just not being in the mood. this story is very out there. and although i wanted spooky, i didnt really want bizarre. but then i got to thinking - if i was in the mood for this, would i enjoy it? and i dont think i would. its just too far outside my comfort zone. the massive cast of characters didnt quite help things either, as it was difficult to keep track of everyone.

i dunno. the unique storytelling kept me interested but, even then, my interest was slight. i do think a lot of people will really enjoy this, as its the perfect october book, but it just wasnt completely for me.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Riley.
424 reviews20.8k followers
October 12, 2019
this was everything I wanted from a YA horror. it was such a crazy ride, i never knew what was gonna happen next
Profile Image for sarah.
382 reviews260 followers
January 21, 2020
Rules For Vanishing is an unsettling, creepy and atmospheric read perfect for those crisp, frosty mornings where you just want to curl up under a cozy blanket and watch buzzed unsolved (just me? okay)

The atmosphere and writing of this book is truly where it excels. From the first page, it transported me to the eerie and ominous woods. I felt like I was playing the game alongside our characters, and was filled with a rising feeling of impending doom each page I read.

I loved the childhood ghost story aspect of the book. According to legend, Lucy Callows disappeared in Briar Glen Woods. Her brother searched for her, and found her being led away by a man. He attempted to follow but the road they were on vanished. It is said that the road reopens every year, and if you go on it, you must follow the rules, or you will never return.

In modern day, Sara decides to try and find her sister, Becca who disappeared in the same way as little Lucy. This book is told in faux-documentary style. We had text messages, interviews and case files to tell us the story in a refreshing and inventive way.

My only complaint with this book is the ending. I personally love that ahuh moment where things come full circle and your mind is blown. Unfortunately, all I felt was confused. I got it, on one level- but I still feel as though I am missing something. Because, surely it couldn’t be that anti-climatic, right? Also- what was that last page?
The ending is just a personal problem, I know many people who love open endings, but I feel with all the build up and foreshadowing, it is disappointing and a wasted opportunity for something truly amazing.

However despite the slightly disappointing ending- I would recommend this book overall!
Profile Image for jenny✨.
563 reviews781 followers
January 25, 2021
“Something wants us here,” she whispers. Her fingertips spider up my arm, her eyes fixed on my shoulder, on nothing at all. “Something brings us. The road. Or something on it.”


you know when you see a little bobbing light and you’re like “huh okay interesting” so you approach and just as you get close you realize the light is attached to a translucent spiny monster-fish thingy that’s WAY bigger than anything you expected?

that’s kinda how i felt going into this book—except the more i read, the more i realized that that fishy thing was only one part of a pod of fishy monster-things and those monsters inhabited a lake that was an ocean that was a UNIVERSE OF SCARY NEAR-INCOMPREHENSIBLE THINGS

this freakin’ book, y’all!!! really put the SPOOK in spooktober!

◻️◻️◻️◻️quick lil synopsis◻️◻️◻️◻️

sara donoghue has not been the same since her sister, becca, disappeared a year ago while looking into the folk legend that has haunted their town for generations. lucy gallows was supposed to be just a game—walk thirteen steps and you’ll find the disappearing road that will bring you through seven otherworldly gates—and yet people have been vanishing from briar’s glen, massachusetts, since 1953 when lucy herself went missing in the forests.

in one last desperate attempt to find her sister, and armed only with the cryptic “rules” left behind in becca’s notebook, sara gathers her former best friends (and some tagalong schoolmates) to find the road—

—and they do. they find the road and play its game.

but they should never have come, because there is no turning back. sinister things are happening to them that they cannot explain let alone control—boys with iron speared through them and girls with hollow cavities instead of torsos; enormous spiders with hollowed-out ribs and creatures the size of apartment buildings. the road lures human travellers just as it attracts hungry, hungry things… and not everyone will survive their desperate search for becca—and for home.

what makes this story EXTRA interesting is that it’s got a mixed-media format. at the start we’re told that someone has requested files to be pulled on a certain case that occurred in briar glen from april–may 2017: sara’s case. through transcripts of cellphone video recordings and interviews with sara after her return from the nightmarish road—and descriptions of photographs, group chat transcripts, and snippets from online true crime forums—the twisty story of exactly what happened to sara and her friends is unravelled bit by horrifying bit.

◻️◻️◻️◻️my thoughts◻️◻️◻️◻️

y’all, it has been a HOT MINUTE since a book has so thoroughly wormed its way under my skin. i was spooked by this story. its lore filled me with skin-crawling unease —which, of course, only propelled me even further down the (har har pun intended) road.

this book just hit a lot of my sweet (scary?) spots:
• loss of friends
• loss of sibling
• going stage by stage through some nightmarish realm (like a demented obstacle course) and losing people at each stage
• seeing the echoes and remnants of—and horrifying outcomes that happened to—others who went through before them
• small town with a ghastly legend attached to a missing girl
• telling a story in retrospect—knowing some of the ending before we ever begin

i have to admit, though, that at times it felt a little... much. i had the initial impression that kate alice marshall was trying to cram every scary thing she could possibly invent into this one novel, making the plot feel somewhat scattered. there’re a lot of characters and backstories to keep track of—and just so much evil to contend with.

but damn was this SCARY.

marshall is so adept at building up an increasingly claustrophobic atmosphere, a looming dread—and then breaking the anticipation with unexpected moments of gore and gruesome action. this book reminded me of cole nagamatsu’s recently published thriller, we were restless things, in its lyrical dexterity and depiction of a world that resembles our own yet is also permeated with a sense of utter wrongness. i also thought of gemma amor’s white pines, another tale of cosmic/folk horror that plunks a macabre other-world right alongside our own mundane plane of existence. i enjoyed both novels, and am definitely adding rules of vanishing to my cache of stories that truly unsettle.

beyond the macabre and supernatural, though, i was blown away by marshall’s prose. i must’ve posted like a dozen status updates while reading this book because i couldn’t stop goggling at how evocative her writing was; it is vivid and visceral without being purple. i loved reading about her worldbuilding, but i loved even more how she captured the humanity of sara and her friends. unlike other stories, we never once forget that these characters are 21st century teens who firmly belong in our reality and not the twisted world that the dark magic of the road has crafted.

Her eyes have no remorse in them, not exactly—only a kind of grief, a grief I understand. Grief for the person you were the instant before you acted.

which brings us to one of the things i loved best about this book: its characters are diverse without being didactic.

sara is bisexual, her best friend mel is Black and lesbian, jeremy is hard-of-hearing and wears a hearing aid (everyone in the friend group can converse in ASL), another schoolmate is east asian and stutters, and sara’s missing sister becca is asian and adopted. ALSO: white characters are explicitly denoted as white! this is such a small but significant detail—because it indicates an awareness that whiteness is not and should not be represented as the default. we should not be automatically assuming that characters whose races aren’t denoted are white folks, and this book recognizes that.

and this isn’t a story in which identities are the end-all-be-all. this is a fucking scary story about nine teens who become ensnared in something much, much bigger than them all. i appreciated that this story represented diverse characters while still allowing them be their scared, messy, sad, and defiant selves.

and there were still moments, flashes, of gen Z hilarity?? like don’t get me wrong, nothing about this book was lighthearted. but the roasts KILLED me. group chat banter was 10/10. whenever one of them swore at another in ASL it would crack me up even though i’d been about to cry tears of fear/frustration only a second earlier. and when they wander around the mansion, unable to see each other, anthony and sara end up awkwardly close to each other without realizing and mel says: “Ew, you look like you’re going to kiss. Of all the injustices this place has flung at us…” LMAO.

finally, i want to add that i deeply appreciated the representation of friendship breakups and deteriorating friendships in this novel. it made me cry, actually.

BOTTOM LINE: i’m going to be thinking about rules for vanishing for a long time yet. and if you’re in search of something to really put you in the spooktober mood—this book comes highly recommended from me. don't read too much into the average star rating, just READ.


also check out what kate alice marshall said in an interview:

I am currently working on the sequel to Rules for Vanishing—another of the Ashford Files, this one taking place on a remote island where you should never trust anyone, especially yourself. Strange birds flock to the island, and danger lurks everywhere: in the mist, in the sea, and in your own reflection. It follows a new narrator, but includes at least one familiar face.

Profile Image for Emma☀️.
332 reviews325 followers
March 28, 2021
Reading this book is the epitome of walking down the stairs, accidentally missing the last step and collapsing in a heap at the bottom. In other words, I’m shook.

Jokes aside. Hot damn. It’s been a while since a horror scared me this much. The atmosphere was stifling and claustrophobic, the feeling of dread never left me hours after finishing this. I took off a star because the plot was all over the place. There were so many things happening at once, it was hard to keep track. I also wasn’t a fan of the ending.

Otherwise, it was an amazing read. Think of this as a mix of Uzumaki by Junji Ito (for the vibes), The Magnus Archives podcast and a sprinkle of Dante’s Inferno. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for a good scare.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,562 reviews262 followers
February 8, 2020
“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.”
― Kate Alice Marshall, Rules for Vanishing

I am going to be doing my review today or tomorrow but before I do..if anyone understands the ending can you either PM me or explain in comments section because I am at a loss.

OK. So I read this book which looked to be terrifying. I find this to be a tough review to do.

Why? Because the writing is SO GOOD. And I cannot imagine writing this book and the detail that went into it.

Often when I am not into a book, it is because it is not well written or there is no structure or plot or SOMETHING bad.

But I think the Horror purist..the type of person who reads alot of this genre..will LOVE this.

I don't and so I didn't.

I liked parts of it. I found aspects scary and creepy. But ghosts and monsters really are not my thing. I LIKE Horror. But I like psychological eerie Horror. The Seventies had alot of it.

And then there is atmosphere. Atmosphere I NEED in my books and that was one thing this book had. It has atmosphere. So that is good.

I was sort of reminded of Christopher Pike who I loved growing up. But I loved his earlier stuff. When he went more into writing about zombies and vampires..I stopped reading him.

So I know my review is sort of all over the place. I will try to be more specific.

I liked this more in the beginning because it had the eeriness and atmosphere that I crave. It did remind me of "The Blair Witch Project" but I did not love that. I DID love The Sixth Sense..that is more my type of horror.

However..I read this late at night and wanted to see where it would go. At some point it just lost me There were so many characters to remember and so much happening simultaneously that it was confusing. And it somehow lost its quiet Eerie factor and went into the bizarre and complicated.

That is where I felt my interest waning and started to skim. Once kids started dying..bodies piling up and monsters and beasts roaming the road..I realized..I am not the target audience.

I was a bit let down as I wanted this to be haunting and unforgettable for me.


The first 30-40 percent of the book.

The woods..the gloomy and ominous atmosphere and I wanted to know what happened to Lucy. And if Sara's sister was really alive.

The Echos! That did get me. I love books about Sirens. (If anyone knows any good ones, send em my way!). I find the whole concept fascinating and terrifying all at once so the echos were the scariest aspect for me.


Someone please PM me or explain the ending..because I have no idea what it meant. This ending made my top ten of "most confusing endings". Does ANYONE know what happened?

In spite of the negatives I think fans of this genre would love it. I am just not a fan of this genre. Three stars from me.
Profile Image for Julie Zantopoulos.
Author 3 books2,245 followers
September 8, 2019
"the sea rushes in her lover rushes in her lover is the sea she unlocks the gate he floods her salt her lips slat her thighs salt her tongue we are drowned the sea rushes in."

Sara's sister Becca has gone missing a year before this story takes place and while most people think she ran away with her boyfriend, Sara knows the truth. She found the road and answered the call of Lucy Gallows, the spirit that called to her in her dreams. The whole town knows the legend of Lucy Gallows so when the text message comes, they're ready.

Do you want to know what happened to Lucy? Yeah, I did, too.

"In the house in the town in the woods on the road are the halls that breathe. The singing will lure you the smoke will infest you the words will unmake you the woman will hate you."

The road will appear if you have prepared, if you have your key, your partner, and are ready to follow the rules. The road wants you, it calls to you, and you have to answer the call. But the road is more than it seems and the people who walk it don't return the same, if at all. So when Sara and her friends (Vanessa, Mel, Miranda, Jeremy, Anthony, Trina and Kevin) set off with her you know some of them aren't making it out alive.

"We feed the road. We feed it by traveling. We feed it by dying."

This novel nearly got some freezer time! I flew through it, it's compelling and gripping but also terrifying. It is pitched as Blair Witch meets The Hazel Wood and man...I get it. It's part portal fantasy and part mockumentary. You get interviews from the kids, text receipts, DM's, video footage transcriptions, and first-hand accounts and all of it is haunting. I don't do scary stories but this was one of the easiest five stars I've given this year. The annotations hold a lot of gasps and "this is brilliant writing". I adored it as a reader, as a writer, and as an experience. If you are into horror, hauntings, or scary stories I suggest giving this one a read!

Also, this book absolutely worked for me but I can see it annoying some people (esp the ending). I still stand behind it! You're going to want to put this one on an October TBR for sure. It's out for sale 9/24.

"Her stutter is pronounced, but she doesn't fight it like she used to when we were younger, and it has its own relaxed flow to it. She likes to tell people it's worth the wait to hear what she has to say."

I loved the rep in this novel for a character with a stutter (Vanessa) and a hard of hearing character (Jeremy) as well as the use of ASL. There's also rep for an adopted sibling, a strong brother/sister bond, friendship bonds, f/f romance, bisexuality, and differing ethnicities.

TW: suicide attempt, death of a loved one, loss of a sibling, domestic abuse, child abuse, murder, death, and gore.
Profile Image for Whispering Stories.
2,598 reviews2,552 followers
October 30, 2019
Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.com

Nearly one year ago Becca went missing, her parents think that she ran away with her boyfriend but her sister Sara has another solution to the mystery – She played the game and became lost in another world.

Legend has it that in 1953 little Lucy Callows (now renamed Gallows) went missing in the Briar Glen Woods. She was last seen wearing a white dress with a blue sash, her brother Billy was sent to look for her and he swore he saw his sister being led away by a man but he couldn’t get to her as the road they were on just disappeared. She was never seen again. The road is supposed to appear once a year leading to another dimension and you have to follow the rules carefully or you will become trapped there. Lucy is waiting for those who dare to play!

Sara had overheard her sister Becca talking about the game and after she had disappeared she found a notebook belonging to Becca containing all the rules to play the game. She is determined to bring her sister back and on the anniversary goes to the woods to see if the legend is true.

Sara isn’t alone though, her friends are waiting for her, they don’t want her to go alone and so when the road does reveal itself to them they join hands and start their journey – Nine enter the road but how many will make it to the other end?

Rules for Vanishing is a very creepy and spooky novel that follows a group of teenagers entering a strange and unpredictable dimension. The book is told via transcribes, written testimonies, interviews, exhibits, and video evidence. We know from the beginning that the game begins in April 2017 and that the transcribes, etc are conducted in May 2017 and that Sara is the main person being interviewed, so we know that Sara makes it out alive, what we don’t know is who else made it with her and if she found her sister.

The book is told in five parts – The Game – The Road – The Beast – The Girl – The Truth. There are lots of rules to the game including you must bring a key to get through the seven gates, make it through all of them and you have completed the game and are free to leave. Along the way, the teenagers encounter many obstacles and strange beings. I was desperate to get through the book as I needed to know who made it out alive at the other end of the road and what unworldly beings and games would they have to face.

The writing is superb and the book has a real atmospherically feel to it, you get the feeling of being in some dark, strange unnerving place whilst reading and can picture what is happening perfectly. You also get the sense of impending doom just waiting in ever chapter. There is a lot of mystery to the book and sometimes it has the feeling of trying to piece the puzzle together to work out what really happened.

The book was such a great read and I enjoyed it the whole way through. The ending was perfect too which made me so relieved as I was apprehensive that it was going to be one of those books that you get to the end of and then they state, ‘it was all a dream’ or ‘someone made the whole thing up’. Although it is one of those endings that will make you think about what you have just read and analyse it.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,908 followers
October 25, 2019
I've been developing a spot in my heart for horror that is bent to YA. It's not that difficult. Most of the horror movies I watched as a kid were all full of kids getting eaten, slashed, or otherwise completely f***ed up. You might say I always thought horror stories were MADE for kids. Just look at campfire ghost stores, man, and you'll know what I mean.

So what about this? It's high school and all the kids here are ripe for the picking. In a lot of ways, it's great for the older kids with kids in high school because they can vicariously watch all the little s**ts get eaten and if you're the same age, you feel EXACTLY the same way.

So what makes this book different?

It reads like an awesome and equally f**d-up adaptation of Silent Hill. Movie or game, it doesn't matter. It's freaking weird and deeply involved and horribly convoluted and awesomely deadly. Me? When I first watched Silent Hill, I freaked and fell deeply in love. The same thing happened with me on this book.

So why the 4 stars rather than 5? Because of the ending. With all that awesome going on in the middle of the book, far surpassing the solid opening, I wanted something THOROUGHLY ambiguous and thought-provoking. Something that fit the premise and execution of the rest.

Please don't dumb down an otherwise smart book. Please? PLEASE. It's like a fantastic runner pushed all her limits to the very edge of human endurance, only to ask for a wheelchair nearly at the end of the race when there was clearly no need.

TRUST YOUR READERS. Awesome is awesome. Let them have the full meal. Sheesh.

Otherwise, this was a fantastic book. :)
Profile Image for Sheena.
576 reviews254 followers
January 28, 2021
UPDATE 1/27/21: I wish I could read this again for the first time :((

Wow. I haven't read a book that's compulsory readable in SO long. I won't lie, I had my doubts because YA horror is usually not that great but THIS. This is. It was genuinely creepy and it was SO hard to put this down when real life got in the way. I can't really write a proper review for this because I realized I am incapable of reviewing books I loved but.. this is such a good book. The format is super engaging. I can totally see it be adapted into a TV series or movie. it's best not reading the synopsis or reading many reviews either. Speaking of movies, this kind of reminded me of Silent Hill if I'm remembering the movie correctly.

The only issue I have with the book is that some of it is a little confusing but the story is so unique that I can let that pass. I think there was a lot going on but that's what made it so interesting. I'm giving this a strong 4.5 and rounding because I'm generous and I loved this. I would like to know what Kate Alice Marshall's thought process was with this and wish I could ask her my questions SO hopefully we get another book. I will be reading her other novels in the meantime.

Thank you to my dear friend Jenny for the recommendation! I think I may buy a copy for my bookshelf.
Profile Image for Mary Books and Cookies.
544 reviews406 followers
November 1, 2020
if you read one (1) YA horror this year, make it this one
blair witch project meets wizard of oz meets silent hill
creepy, spooky, haunting, emotional
pls read this book kthxbye
Profile Image for myo ✧༺ ༘♡ ༻∞.
699 reviews6,244 followers
March 7, 2020
This honestly has to be one of the most perfect ya horror stories i’ve read so far this year. Not only was it spooky but it was very diverse, which is something i look for a lot with books. It had characters of color and queer characters. One of the things i loved most about this was that it was a mocumentary with hints of fantasy.

Another thing i really enjoyed with this book was the childhood legend aspect of this book. Childhood legends were something that really intrigued me as a kid and not only were the details of the legend perfect but how the author came up with songs and games for it was amazing.

I can see this book being hyped for the fall seasons and i can’t wait to get my hands on a hardcover physical copy when it releases!
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,485 reviews189 followers
April 16, 2021
Well usually this kind of format engages me but sadly this book was weird and lacked cohesion.

Normally I love novels that are made up of interviews, journal entries, police reports etc but this just didn't hold my interest. The reason was that none of it really flowed together. It was like the writer had thought of some creepy little scenes and stuck them together and called it a novel. So yes, there were some creepy parts but overall the story was disjointed. I can't explain it anymore than that. Nothing seemed to make sense or quite fit for me. For example the bird/neck scene was super eerie and gross but for me it just came right out of left field. This happened repeatedly. Anyway, lots of people have loved this so I think it is just a case of not for me.
Profile Image for Schizanthus Nerd.
1,137 reviews234 followers
November 24, 2019
That was one seriously compulsive read! I just-one-more-chaptered my way through this book and I’m left feeling slightly panicked, knowing I almost didn’t read it at all. Too many books arrived at the library at once so some will have to be sent back unread. I know me and if they are returned unread, no matter how noble my intentions, they will disappear into the ‘I’m going to read that one day’ void.

It was only because this book was almost due and someone else wanted it so I was unable to renew it that I gave it a try. I’m so glad I did because it was so much better than I hoped, but I’m now thinking about all of the other books I could be getting to know and am having bookish anxiety about all of the potential winners that may slip through my grasp. I need to read all the books!
All I hear are the last words my sister spoke, muttering into her phone. On April 18, one year ago.
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.
Everyone in Briar Glen, MA knows the legend of Lucy Gallows. On 19 April, 1953, 15 year old Lucy Callow (yep, her name morphed a little during the creation of the legend) went missing in the forest. Legend says that one day each year a path appears in the forest. This time last year Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared.

On 17 April, 2017, every Briar Glen High School student received the text message.
Sara is determined to find her sister and in two days she will play the game. Joined by eight others, Sara will seek out “The Massachusetts Ghost Road”.
I know Becca didn’t run away. That leaves one possibility and one impossibility, and I long for the impossible. Because if she isn’t dead, if she’s only been taken, she can be brought back.
13 steps.
7 gates.
9 potential victims players.
“Don’t break the rules. Bad things happen when you break the rules.”
This book includes interviews, written testimony, emails, transcripts of messages, phone calls and videos, descriptions of photos and other evidence pertinent to file number 74 of The Ashford Files. Naturally, because this was file 74, I wanted unrestricted access to all of the preceding files as well as any that have been created since.

Sometimes narratives that rely on multiple formats to tell the story cause me to disconnect from both its characters and storyline, but here it completely sucked me in. I kept finding myself planning on putting the book down at the end of a chapter of written testimony, only to need to read the transcript that followed, which then made me need to read the following chapter to see how it all fit together. Compulsive and so much fun!
There are things I am not supposed to tell you.
There are things I don’t remember.
There are things I don’t know.
I couldn’t get enough information about the gates and the paths between them. At times I got the sense I was experiencing what I expect a hallucinogen would feel like. As I read I kept thinking that I would love to see these strange visuals outside of my imagination and was thrilled to read an article that told me there’s going to be a movie! I can’t wait to see it!
“But the monsters aren’t the only thing you have to be afraid of here.”
My main frustration showed up right at the end of the book; I definitely need to know what it was that . Hopefully the movie or perhaps another book detailing another Ashford File will give me this much needed closure.

While I read a library copy of this book I definitely foresee a copy of my own and a reread in the not too distant future.
“lt’s coming.”
Content warnings include .
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,622 reviews5,063 followers
October 20, 2022
So be careful what roads you take, and be careful who you follow down them.

I've been hearing friends rave about Rules for Vanishing for years, and all I can say is that I'm sorry it took me this long to read it, because WOW, this was incredible! It was honestly one of the creepiest and best YA horror novels I've ever read, and it had some of the best "found footage" vibes I've ever seen in a book.

The mixture of Sara's standard narrative with the bits of interviews and other media types were incredible and kept the plot moving at a lightning pace, with some sort of action seeming to hit you near constantly. Sara's narrative parts are told in a first-person, present tense style, which works brilliantly for the ominous feel of the story, especially when we quickly realize Sara's hiding some things from us, too. The unreliable narrator kept me constantly guessing at what was real and what wasn't, and it all culminated in the most atmospheric, immersive, genuinely creepy experience that I loved every single page of.

There are so many twists in this book, and nothing is as it seems—especially the road itself—so it's the kind of book that I truly recommend you go into knowing as little as possible about. If I could recommend any single YA horror book I've read in recent years above all others, it would be this one, and I can't wait to read more of Kate Alice Marshall's stories!

Buddy read with the lovely Ashley!

Representation: bi MC, lesbian love interest, Asian side character, deaf side character, side character with a stutter

Content warnings for:

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Profile Image for kate.
1,108 reviews921 followers
October 8, 2019
4.5* This was SO GREAT. But also, that ending?! I WANT ANSWERS.

This is the first book in a long time that’s given me that ‘just one more chapter’ feeling, making it entirely impossible to put down. I haven’t read anything this eerie, or genuinely creepy in far too long and I’m grateful to it for reminding me how much I love horror/thrillers!

The formatting, with its interview and video transcripts etc. superbly elevated the plot, pulling me in with ten more questions for each one they answered, making it incredibly addictive.

All in all, this whole reading experience was a riot from start to finish. Simply fantastic.

TW: mention of suicide attempt and domestic abuse.
Profile Image for Monica (crazy_4_books).
658 reviews115 followers
July 14, 2021
(read for #thistheseasonthon for the challenge: read a book you received as a gift)
Does this headline make any sense at all? Don't know. Remember the movie "Memento"? Well, I feel as dizzy as I did after watching that! This book is great. Since it's been marketed as YA (though I don't think it's very YA-ish), it's the best one I've read this year along with "Neverworld Wake". And both have a few things in common: First, a group of friends who reunite after a year of being estranged try to solve the disappearance/death of another friend in common. In "Neverworld wake" was solving the suspicious death of the boyfriend of the female lead, and here is solving the disappearance of the sister of the female lead. Second, in both books not everyone survives to tell the story. In "Neverworld wake" the characters are college sophomores and here they're a high school kids, although the dialogues are pretty mature next to other YA stuff I've been reading. Third, although the genre is different in both books, there are some common things along the plot development. I won't spoil anything. "Neverworld Wake" is a sci-fi/mystery/thriller with the trope of lime loop. "Rules for Vanishing" is a horror/thriller/mockumentary style of writing, sort of "The Blair Witch Project" meets "Stranger things" meets "The Exorcist". Totally nuts, I know, but it's unputdownable. All you need to know is: there are hunted woods, hunted by a dead girl called Lucy. Becca, Sara's sister, goes missing in these woods, and Sara reunites their friends a year later to go into the woods and try to save her sister if she's still alive. There are weird rituals, doors, and monsters and series of trials they must endure in order to finish the game. However, it's not that easy and things go bonkers much of the time. Like I said, my brain is fried. But I really really liked it. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Renee Godding.
582 reviews556 followers
January 15, 2020
2/5 stars

I don’t even know at this point… I picked this YA-horror novel up in an attempt to lift my spirits and battle my looming readingslump, but unfortunately it did not have the desired effect. I couldn’t for the life of me get into the story.
The short version of what I liked and disliked about this story:

- The format: this reads like a found-footage movie. It has been compared to “The Blair Witch in bookform”, and I can honestly see that.
- In the first 100 pages, the novel does a great job at setting up the atmosphere and mystery. This part was where I was kind of engaged with the story and if it hadn’t been for those first 100 pages, I’d DNF-ed the book for sure.

- Teenage drama
I hate saying a YA book feels too YA to me, but this one kind of did. The characters were at times in absolutely dire and terrifying conditions, and still managed to be bothered with petty drama and angst. As someone who used to be a teenager before: even teenagers have survival instinct that help you prioritise that shit…
- Could have been edited down
The book mostly felt too long to me. I feel like an editor could have shaved off at least 100 pages without losing any substance. For me, that would have made for a more readable, better paced novel.
- Tropes… loads of tropes.
I’m beginning to expect it from YA books, but it still bothered me here.

As a final note: the ending is fairly “open”. Although I don’t mind that in my horror (in fact, I often prefer it), I know it’s going to bother a lot of readers, so I’ll mention it here. If you like your stories to be perfectly wrapped up, with no questions left behind; you’re not going to get that here.
Profile Image for TL .
1,790 reviews35 followers
October 9, 2019
Great story for the most part and very spooky... the ending was underwhelming in some respects.
I don't mind an open-ended conclusion sometimes and I know you can't always have the answers but... felt a little cheated with this one.

The ending isn't a bad one but with everything else before it *shrugs*

When I did pick it up, I was laser focused. At the same time, it was easy for me to not pick this up at times.
Profile Image for Theresa.
510 reviews1,562 followers
January 23, 2020
This started off really strong but then kind of lost me a bit as it continued.

In the beginning, it's very mysterious and suspenseful and truly kept me on the edge of my seat. There were a few instances were weird things happened that made you question if what you were actually reading was real or not or if you'd missed a crucial plot element because things just kind of stopped making sense. Don't worry though, all is revealed in the end.

Ultimately I think this is a book I'd have preferred as an adult book, simply because the older target audience would have allowed for more actual horror and for the book to go further and do more than it did in its YA constraints.

I still enjoyed my reading experience, but at the end of the day it was just kind of mediocre.
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,003 reviews3,279 followers
October 22, 2020
3.5 stars

Given I don’t actually read that many horror books, I don’t think my weak heart could take it on a regular basis, Rules for Vanishing definitely satisfied when it came to the scary department! If you’re looking for a super atmospheric, creepy read for Halloween, definitely pick this one up – you won’t be disappointed. But don’t say I didn’t warn you when I say read this during daylight hours….

Full review posted on Happy Indulgence Books.
Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
December 5, 2019
Briar Glen is synonymous with the the name Lucy Gallows, a young woman that wandered into the forest and never returned. Her last known whereabouts was on a road to nowhere, being lead by an unknown male assailant. Throughout the years the fable may have interchanged but the instructions remain the same, find a partner, find a key, find the road.

On the eve of the anniversary of Lucy Gallow's disappearance, Sara Donoghue's adoptive sister Rebecca was lured into the fated fable, whispered conversations and a notebook left behind, evidence she planned to find fifteen year old Lucy. Sara has maintained hope that Sara is still alive, the police labelling the adolescent as a difficult young woman who disappeared with Zachary Kent, a young man she barely knew.

Although Rebecca was adopted as an infant, Sara Donoghue and sister Rebecca shared an everlasting friendship. Rebecca was the center of their universe, a group of friends who dissolved shortly after her disappearance, Sara has endured depression and isolation. Her journey to find her sister is harrowing, captivating and a breathtaking paranormal thriller that will captivate the imagination of readers until the final page.

Find a partner. Find a key. Find the road.

Atmospheric and haunting, Rules for Vanishing is told from the perspective of Sara Donoghue through a series of interviews, transcripts, eyewitness accounts and photographic evidence while Sara recollects her journey upon the once believed to be mythological road. The legend of Lucy Gallows has been idolised by the teens of Briar Glen since her disappearance, speculation that her brother killed her and left her to ruin on the forest floor the logical conclusion. What happened to Lucy has always been a mystery but those who believe in Lucy's story can hear the young woman calling for help, including Becca, according to her sister Sara. Sara refuses to accept that she ran away with her new boyfriend when Becca and Sara's best friend were clearly attracted to one another, only Anthony didn't believe in the local legend which left Becca to find someone who was willing to follow her onto the road.

Although Sara's self isolated after Becca's disappearance, her former group of mutual friends have come along for the ride. Disbelieving in the supernatural, I don't think anyone expected to have stumbled upon the road, now finding themselves in a strange and eerie purgatory between worlds, where darkness is no friend of the weary traveller and you must follow the rules to survive. Take a partner, hold their hand and under no circumstances should you leave the road. What ensues is a creepy as hell storyline that left me jumping at shadows and reading long into the night. Despite my better judgement and skyrocketing anxiety.

The travellers are a motley crew of characters, all varying degrees of unreliable so as a reader it's difficult to establish what's real and what has been created by the trauma of the situation or outright untruths. Regardless, it makes for a fascinating narrative that blends a contemporary storyline with urban legend, infused with paranormal elements and everything in between. Reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project and Small Spaces by Australian author Sarah Epstein.

My favourite element of Rules for Vanishing was the ability to surprise readers. By now we've all read enough paranormal to fill a warehouse, this is one book that needs to be celebrated for being unique and creating the mystery and intrigue to captivate even the toughest of readers, not to mention creep us the hell out.

You know what, just read it. The element of surprise is all in the discovery of the urban legend and those who seek answers. Just a word of warning to leave the light on, Lucy seems to dwell in the dark.
Profile Image for Cassie.
338 reviews65 followers
September 22, 2019
This book is so creepy and haunting, holy fuck.

My god, what the hell did I just read? I would not want to be stuck in this world. This world is full of nightmares. I got so many goosebumps while reading this story, I kid you not. Some of the things described in here are enough to make my skin crawl. It was truly horrifying.

There were quite a few characters to keep up with, but that didn’t really bother me. I was never bored once during this entire book. I also really love the format that it’s told in — some parts in Sara’s POV, some in video format, and some told in interviews. It’s a dossier format and I love when that type of format is in books.

This is definitely perfect for the spooky times. If you want a great reading experience, I suggest perhaps reading this in the dark with a flashlight, if you don’t read the ebook format. Seriously, it will up the spine tingling experience.

I will say though, this ending? I didn’t understand it whatsoever. Soooo.... if you’ve read this and understand the ending, please message me and help me out lol. I know a lot of people haven’t read this yet, as it is still an ARC, but regardless, I hope someone messages me and can help explain it?

Overall, if you’re looking for a story that will make you question reality, and I mean truly question it, then look no further and let me present to you Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall.

Many thanks to Edelweiss and the publishers for sending a digital copy of this my way!
Profile Image for lady h.
639 reviews181 followers
October 29, 2020
well this was freaking spectacular. i don't even know what this was but it was so much more than i expected??? SO much cosmic horror? supernatural shit? i don't even usually like alice in wonderland type narratives where characters go on a journey and come up against crazy weird shit they can't explain but everything here was so deliciously creepy that i absolutely loved it. there were some lines here that slithered under my skin and made a permanent nest. the mixed media format made everything super duper compelling. i also really loved the casual diversity and lgtb rep and the focus on sisterly love.

but this book goes HARD, y'all! especially for a ya, it doesn't shy away from death and loss and gore and straight up horror. but it also did such a good job of creating memorable characters; at first i was like, there's too many damn people here i can't keep track but by the end they were all my children. loved the way banter and humor was threaded in here to lighten the mood sometimes while never really being cringe. also the slightly ambiguous ending slapped.

this is SUCH a good book to read in the dark during halloween week. seriously so creepy and i'm going to be thinking about it for a long time.
Profile Image for greta.
198 reviews206 followers
February 23, 2021
this book was alright. slightly better than typical thrillers, but not far off from still being typical lol.
i've read quite a bit amount of mystery thrillers & it seems to me that most of them are SO alike.
reading this from the start to the middle, i didn't feel any connection to the story, nor its characters. it was simple – a missing sister, the other one trying to find her, woods and an ancient legend about the girl haunting those woods. kinda typical lol, and so typical i felt.
towards the end of the book, however, things started to get a bit more intriguing, so that's basically the reason why i kept going w this book. the very end (few last pages) were really disappointing lol, expected a MUCH better one :/
in general, this was a sorta book giving u creepy vibes & quite detailed descriptions of disgusting things happening, but this is still an average book for me. it was good, not my fav book ever, but not utterly disappointing either.
i would recommend this book to those, who are very easily spooked or those, who want to explore this genre more thoroughly.
Profile Image for Brithanie Faith.
258 reviews164 followers
July 16, 2019
4/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

As soon as I saw that Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall was written in the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project I requested it without a second thought, and thank god I did, because it is without a doubt one of the best books that I've read so far this summer!

Once a year, a mysterious path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to try to find her, and who won't make it out of the woods alive?

I wasn't expecting to love this one as much as I did, but I'm already thinking of doing a re-read of it in the fall, because it was far creepier than I was anticipating, and I'm looking forward to discussing it in depth once more people have read it- so please do yourselves a favor and add this to your TBR's if you haven't already! I cannot wait to see what else this author is capable of!
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