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In the Vanishing Hour


Loved it! 😍

8 years after her brother mysteriously drowns, Frances Adams investigates the startlingly similar demise of a new friend.

In the Vanishing Hour is a haunting tale about loss, personal identity and the weight of dangerous secrets. When Frances Adams was about 12-years-old her older brother, Mac, mysteriously drowned. Feeling like her personal development was stunted and shadowed following her brothers’ sudden death, Frances went from being a bright, outspoken girl to a mouse of a woman. Feeling forever frumpy compared to her friend Iris and the models that she works with everyday at her department store job, Frances feels a light turn on inside her when a new girl, Gwen, shows interest in her. Not only do both girls look startlingly alike, but Gwen inspires Frances that maybe it’s time to finally grow into herself. When Gwen suddenly vanishes and assumedly drowns in a death that mysteriously seems to mirror Mac’s death eight years earlier, Frances finds herself taking on the dead woman’s likeness and feeling a strength and fervor she’s never felt before. 

In the Vanishing Hour is told in a captivating tone between the alternating narrations of Frances and Harris. Harris was one of three young men who were considered persons of interest in Gwen’s death. Fifteen years after Gwen’s disappearance, Harris reluctantly returns to his hometown in order to take part in an architectural project for his job. Faced with not only his memories of that fuzzy night leading up to Gwen’s disappearance, Harris must also face two old acquaintances who represent a side of his younger self he wishes he could forget once and for all. 

The book starts out with a punch: “The body was found a few yards from the boathouse.” Right away, In the Vanishing Hour threw a hook to its audience that would be eagerly baited by readers. My favorite thing about the book was the mysterious air that seemed to pervade the entire story. As the chapters went on, I felt like there were a lot of instances where instead of admitting things directly, the book sort of forced me as a reader to come to my own conclusions and ask and answer my own questions. I felt like a detective trying to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding not only Gwen’s death, but Mac’s. Throughout the book I just could never shake the feeling that the factors surrounding both deaths seemed too coincidental and similar. I kept waiting for new clues to be dropped so that I could pin them up on the corkboard in my mind.  In the end, each new connection seemed to blend effortlessly into a bigger picture that was more intricate than you could have ever imagined.

In the Vanishing Hour is a soft thriller that plods at the strings of your mind to keep turning pages. The nagging regret lacing Harris’ thoughts and the simmering curiosity of Frances’ culminate in a masterpiece of a book that hits home on the notion that the longer you hold onto dangerous secrets, the heavier they become.

Reviewed by

Megan has been an avid reader and writer since she was little. A paralegal by day, Megan obtained dual bachelor's degrees in Creative Writing and English, as well as a Master's in Public History. She has several fiction and non-fiction publications of her own. She loves dogs, books...and naps!

About the author

Sarah Beth Martin is the author of IN THE VANISHING HOUR (Encircle Publications) and THE ONE TRUE OCEAN (Encircle reissue from Sourcebooks 2003). Her short stories and essays have appeared in journals and magazines. She lives in coastal Maine, where she is wrapping up her third novel. view profile

Published on October 19, 2022

Published by Encircle Publications

80000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

Reviewed by