This is a fairly short but utterly engrossing read.
The Vanishing Act is narrated by 13 year-old Minou, as she tells us the story of how her mother disappeared from the deserted island that they live on, a year previously. It is both magical and tender as we join Minou in her search for the truth.
‘Suddenly it was the loneliest night, and it was Mama’s voice, and it was the saddest song I had ever heard. It sounded as if she was singing from the depths of the frozen sea. My breath was not my own and everything felt wrong.’
Much like ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, this story is told in a very simple childlike format, which makes you feel all the more for the young naive Minou. She and her father live on the island, and the only other two people also on the island are ‘Priest’ and ‘Boxman’ the magician, and a dog called ‘No Name’. While she is adamant that her mother is still alive and has simply run away, the others on the island are certain she has been drowned at sea. Minou decides to use her logic and compile as many facts as she can to prove her mother is still alive.
‘It is in the heart and not in the words – not even in the most beautiful ones – but in the heart, in the skeleton bird pushing against your chest, wanting to fly, that we know for certain who and what we love. That is all we have, and all there is.’
The characters are wonderfully written, and at the same time, both lots and very little happens in the duration of the story. It is a real gem of a novel. Short, intriguing and ultimately heartbreaking, you will be glad you took a moment to read it.
It is classified as adult fiction, but I would say it’s very much a crossover book. There’s nothing inappropriate for a younger reader, so I’d suggest it’s suitable for age 13+
Original Book Girl