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January 13, 2024

A Place for Vanishing by Ann Fraistat ~ a Review

by MK French

Newly diagnosed as bipolar, Libby and her family move into a new home as a fresh start. The house is teeming with bugs and there are rumors about disappearances tied to the house stretching back over a century. Libby's mother won't pay attention to anything derailing the family's new start in town, but Libby plans to. There are secrets in the house, and she's sure the bug-shaped masks scattered throughout the property are the answer. People always wear masks, after all, but if Libby keeps hers on too long, she might lose herself.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of young adult fantasy novel A Place for Vanishing by Ann Fraistat
January 2024; Delacorte Press; 978-0593382219
audio, ebook, print (464 pages); young adult

The opening line is killer and drew me in right away. From there we see the fragile connections between Libby, her mother, and her sister, and learn about the psychiatric hospitalization and cyclothymia diagnosis. Libby calls it bipolar III disorder and feels that her unstable mood and behavior are the reason why they all moved for a fresh start. But the house feels odd, neighbors are uncomfortable with them living in such a storied house, and Libby can't escape her sense of dread. There's so much unspoken between Libby and her mother, as well as Libby and her sister. It's those silences that let assumptions fester, which compounds the lows and rejection that Libby feels.

The house once belonged to a medium, who held seances on the property. Libby's mother doesn't remember much from the childhood she had in the house before her parents went missing, and it's just another thing that isn't discussed until it's too late. Instead, Libby at first fears she's hallucinating, or that the neighbor is trying to drive them out. It's not a spoiler to say that spirits are real, and she isn't told the full story of the house until it's too late. But the fight in the second half of the book makes her realize how much she truly wants to live, how much her family means to her, and that she isn't as weak or powerless as she thinks she is. She would do anything for her family, but they also would do anything for her. Strength comes in many forms, and Libby has a drive to continue. I really liked seeing that in her, and how she was able to rally when at her low points. The masks, metaphorical and literal, were a motif we can all understand. Sometimes people see us, sometimes they see only what's presented on the surface. Peeling away the layers reveals the truth, and allows a true chance to start over.

Buy A Place for Vanishing at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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