Cover Image: The Temple House Vanishing

The Temple House Vanishing

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Member Reviews

This was a good debut novel. There is great atmosphere, which is something I love during the autumn and winter seasons. This story is set at a boarding school but the atmosphere is the main vibe that is portrayed rather than dark academia (which is what I was expecting). Overall I enjoyed the story although it helps to know that this is a slow burn rather than traditional thriller.
Recommend to those seeking great fall vibes but beware of the flip/flop in time and the slow plot development.

#TheTempleHouseVanishing #NetGalley #AlgonquinPress
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More brooding goth than academic but overall a good mystery with a great ending. The wriing was good so i will look for more from this author.
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All you campus novel fans out there, walk don't run- a chilling and suspenseful review with incredible setting!
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This atmospheric story was good, but moved a bit slow for me. I wanted to connect with the characters but it just wasn't happening.
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I wish I had the words to describe the dialogue in this book. To me, they don't sound like teenagers in the 90s storyline but that could just be me. This book was a slow creep but the ending was predictable. Still an enjoyable read though. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.
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A slow, intriguing novel, The Temple Hosue Vanishing is a good mystery debut from Rachel Donahue. 

The novel jumps between the past and the present. It's more gothic than dark academia. The writing is flowing, sometimes a bit too flowery. There is an essence of mystery, with plenty of hints toward the ultimate ending. 

Well executed, intriguing, with an air of ennui.
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Thank you Algonquin and Libro.FM for the ARC and ALC in exchange for an honest review.

What I liked: The lyrical writing and the extensive sense of place. Also liked that a cold case was solved.

Other than that, let's get into it:

It is always hard for me to hear "dark academia" in a book description and not think that the author is trying to go down the same path as The Secret History. I am guilty of always immediately putting them up against on another. 

So in my opinion- this is another wannabe. 

When I think of dark academia, I think of college professors and students - not catholic boarding school girls and their teachers. To me, this is more gothic than dark academia. 

This one is the standard 25 year old cold case that hinges upon the go-to, "let's blame this on the new student from the 'wrong side of town'" vibes right from the start along with zero likable characters. Can a rich kid be the one thrown under the bus from the fellow students for once?

The lyrical writing set up a stage for an interesting plot, however it dragged. The catty high schoolers just left me annoyed and uninterested. I had completely lost interested in the disappearance of Lousia and Mr. Lavelle. Also didn't really care about the reporter with the loose connection to Louisa even though she did move the plot along and help the case come to a conclusion in the end. 

I would love to pick up another book from her though because her lyrical writing was gorgeous. However, lyrical writing does not equal a gripping plot line. 

Another The Secret History wannabe in my opinion.
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The Temple House Vanishing is an interesting book but I have to confess it didn't entirely work for me. I think it's a great idea but for me the execution just wasn't a hundred percent there. 3.5 rounded up.
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(3.5 stars) Decent debut mystery novel from Rachel Donohue. The novel switches between present day and 25 years earlier, at a private Roman Catholic school, mainly for upper-class society, where two friends, Victoria and Louisa first meet. Louisa struggles to fit in as she is one of the few scholarship students who grew up in  a very different socioeconomic background than most of the other students. Victoria is from an upper-class family and has developed a relationship of sorts with the bohemian art teacher, Mr. Edward LaVelle. 

This was a slow, intriguing, suspense novel. I enjoyed how the story switched back and forth between the two main characters, Victoria and Louisa while they are students at The Temple House, as well as the "journalist" who is left with the task of reporting the story during present day. There were inconsistencies in the plot that frustrated me and the ending was satisfying but left me feeling a little let-down. Overall, 3.5 stars for a decent, brooding mystery. 

Thank you to Rachel Donohue, NetGalley, and Algonquin Books for an advanced eBook copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Ho hum, another shopworn boarding school mystery.

I don’t have especially high standards for the genre because it’s my favorite, so I will read and often enjoy books of this nature even if they’re flawed and derivative. 

I wouldn’t call this book flawed (it’s well written and the plot is structurally sound), but there’s nothing we haven’t seen before here, and it lacks the secondary elements a book like this needs in order to be successful when the story is not particularly original. 

I’ve seen this classed as Dark Academia, which feels like a significant miscategorization considering it is almost entirely devoid of academic content and has next to no atmosphere.

And that’s the real issue for this book: It’s a bleak book that is missing the good part of bleakness in a book, which is the atmosphere. The school, the grounds, the girls’ activities are vague and banal, rather than richly steeped in the kind of dark atmosphere that takes a book like this from readable to truly good. 

The characters too often feel half-formed. Louisa is well-written and an exception to this, but Victoria (clearly meant as mysterious and admirable) comes off as shrill and petulant well before her character is intended to be revealed as such. 

The teacher they all obsess over seems like a vague panoply of traits rather than the object of admiration he is clearly meant to be. In truth Helen is probably the best-realized character in the story, and the most fitting for the setting that the author was aiming for. 

If you just love boarding school mysteries, this is passable and certainly moves well enough to keep you interested. But it’s not really Dark Academia, and it’s nothing we haven’t seen many times before.
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While this is well-written and ticks many boxes in the suspense genre, the story did not keep my interest. I had a tough time finishing it, possibly because I did not connect with the characters. Granted they were teenagers, the most self-involved species on our planet but they were quite unlikable. Not that I have to relate to a character to enjoy a story but could they not have some redeeming quality; at least, their abhorrence should lend some intention. The book also moved very slowly to where I often found I wasn't sure if the narrative served any purpose.

On the plus side, the writing hit the mark on fulfilling  an 0atmospheric quality. It felt like an eerie, spooky place where nefarious going-ons occur routinely.

I wish to thank Netgalley and Atlantic books for my electronic ARC in exchange for my review.
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There is pretty clearly a trend in my reading patterns. I claim to have a varied and eclectic bookshelf, but let's be honest, historical mystery is my first love, and apparently, specifically those set at boarding schools with "dark secrets."

An up and coming journalist is assigned to cover the impending anniversary of the disappearance of a teacher and student from the venerable and elite Catholic boarding school, Temple House. Her tangential connection to the missing girl draws our protagonist to explore a deeper understanding of the mystery and the people involved and this exploration will lead to the explosive and long-hidden truth of what happened.

The story shifts between the present day and decades ago when our missing girl, Louisa, arrives at Temple House as a scholarship student. Her status at the school is repeatedly made clear to her by the elite girls who are part of legacy families and who don't rely on scholarship money. She meets the mysterious Victoria who never treats her as less than, but Victoria has secrets, and Louisa may not be prepared to know what they are.

Then of course there is the charming and handsome Mr. Lavelle, the art teacher. He's not like the other teachers, he's a cool teacher (wink, wink, nod, nod). All of the girls are in love with him, obviously, though maybe some of them would never admit it. And Victoria and Louisa presumably share a special connection with the young man. He goes missing the same time as Louisa - is he involved? Is this a classic case of a teacher taking advantage of a student? Temple House knows, but it's a secret everyone is prepared to take to the grave.

First things first, Donohue really knows how to set a scene. This novel is best described as atmospheric. Temple House is practically it's own character, offering important context for the actions and beliefs of all of the players. You can sense Louisa's discomfort at trying to find her way, and Victoria is clearly an outsider at Temple House despite her privilege.

I really enjoyed this one. I will say that if this is a genre you love (🙋🏼‍♀️ hi, hello!) and read often you'll likely start to guess at the ending, like I did. But there is enough tension and suspense to keep you second-guessing the version of events history wants you to believe. The characters are really well developed and so whether you like them or not, they invoke a pretty strong feeling one way or another. I was also impressed with the pacing - the story never really dragged or felt drawn out. Every interaction and action served the overall story.

Generally speaking, a great mystery, well-timed, and kept me on the hook right up until the end. I look forward to more from Rachel Donohue!

Thank you to Netgalley and Algonquin Books for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Wow. What a great read this was. Dark, moody, perfect. This was a unique find and will be talked about for years.
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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**
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Although the author used eloquent and sometimes lyrical language, this novel lacked coherence and engagement.
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I’ve seen lots of comparisons to The Secret History with this one. Totally fair. The writing style of The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue feels a bit more akin to maybe Emily St. John Mandel or Charlotte McConaghy to me.

That said, the prose is lush. It’s a gothic, atmospheric novel that dives into the lives of a scholarship girl and her vivacious, rich friend, a charismatic teacher, and a journalist years later still captivated by the two who went missing.

It’s a book for lovers of language and character study. It’s a slow burn novel and one that’s not full of unpredictable twists. So, if you are looking for a fast-paced thriller, this might not be the one for you.

I could see this being a book club pick for those ISO a literary thriller with some heft in a small package. 

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this book with me. All thoughts are my own.
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There are two types of girls who go to Temple House.  The legacies who come from prominent families and the scholarship students whose talents shine bright enough to get them noticed.  Victoria is part of a long line of women who have attended the school.  When Louisa arrives she is drawn not just to this charismatic teacher that a lot of the girls have a crush on but also to Victoria.  She revels in being noticed by her, being chosen to take part in Victoria and Mr. Lavelle's excursions.  

When both Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear at the same time rumour has it that they have run off together.  But Temple House is closed mouthed and its familes and have circled their wagons.  It is now 25 years later and a journalist who grew up in the shadow of Louisa's disappearance has decided to dig for clues into this life-long mystery.  She visits the school, talks to former students and staff as well as the police who investigated the case.  She scours the internet for clues and direction.  A new picture starts taking shape.  The vision of Mr. Lavelle as a charming fellow who could break anyone out of their shell starts to fade as people who knew him describe a man with a darker side with many secrets to hide.  Was he capable of harming Louisa?   Is it possible that both he and Louisa are dead?  Did Victoria or oneof the other girls act out in a fit of jealousy?  To what extent is Temple House complicit?

The Temple House Vanishing is written in dual timelines.  The present is narrated by the journalist and the past by Louisa.  I found the journalist chapters more intriguing as they dealt directly with unravelling the mystery.   Overall the book is well written, but the pacing was very slow.   I can see the parallels between this book and Kate Elizabeth Russell's My Dark Vanessa.  Atmospheric and brooding, I would recommend this book to people who like gothic novels.
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🏰The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue is thrilling but not a typical thriller. A dual narrative, present day and past begins in the present with the suicide of a character from the past and builds to the reveal of what really happened 25 years ago between two girls attending a Catholic boarding school run by nuns and their somewhat bohemian young male art teacher.

It's hard for me to realize that 25 years ago would have been the 1990s because in some ways the past narrative feels like it was from a time longer ago.

If you are a fan of dark academia with Irish gothic vibes you may enjoy this title. I especially appreciated that I didn't figure out what happened early on, and that while a lot of questions are answered, in the end there are some loose ends that kept me thinking.
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The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue is a poetically-written gothic novel set at a girls' boarding school in Ireland that centers on the mystery of what happened to a student and teacher who went missing years before and were never found. The dual timeline story starts in 1990, following Louisa, a girl on academic scholarship from a working class family during her first year at the Temple House School. The second timeline is set 25 years later, following a journalist who is investigating what happened to Louisa and her teacher at the school. 

When Louisa starts at the boarding school, she quickly becomes enamored with enigmatic classmate, Victoria; and their young, bohemian art teacher, Mr. Lavelle. He is charismatic, without boundaries, and soaks up attention of his female students. The girls 
play games at being adults, not realizing the possible repercussions. The setting is gorgeously described and atmospheric and there are intriguing religious and philosophical ruminations. We're kept guessing up until near the end about what happened to Louisa and Mr. Lavelle. I loved the exceptionally creepy epilogue and learning what has become of Louisa, Mr. Lavelle, and Victoria. 

Thank you Algonquin Books for providing this ARC.
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When I read some descriptions of The Temple House Vanishing, they had me immediately sucked in with sentences like: "In 1987, a sixteen year old girl and her 25-year-old teacher disappeared from an Irish boarding school that sat on a cliff overlooking the sea, and haven't been seen since."  As a former '80s teen who had a massive crush on my young English teacher and as a reader who loves a twisty mystery, I was IN. 

Rachel Donohoe's debut novel, told from several different character perspectives centers around Louisa, a brilliant high school on scholarship at an elite Catholic high school tucked deep atop the Irish coast. She's struggling to fit in here, much like at her old public school she's always felt like an outsider, unseen and misunderstood. Then she meets the aloof cool girl Victoria and dashing young art teacher Mr Lavelle, who draw her into their private world and she finds herself involved at last in a friendship - one that confuses her, awakens certain passions in her and exposes her to the often bizarre world of the ultra rich. But still, she's finally got what she's been craving - people who make her feel seen and heard. 

The book starts in the present day, with the unsolved mystery of what happened to Louisa and Mr. Lavelle who both vanished from campus together on the same day and haven't been seen or heard from since. The book goes back and forth from what did happen at the school in the '80s and to the now, with a journalist who is reinvestigating the cold case on its 25th anniversary to try and find new clues to the highly publicized case in which most people are torn between theories that Mr Lavelle killed Louisa and went underground or that the two were romantically involved and ran away together to some far flung location. 

The book is haunting , absorbing and provides just enough twists (and a few breadcrumbs) to keep us engrossed and guessing until finally, at the end - we are rewarded with what really happened. It reminded me a little of two books I read (and loved) last year, My Dark Vanessa and Catherine House. It's kind of like if those two books had an Irish baby. So if you liked those two books, my guess is you (like me) will be into this one as well. 

I read this book (thank you #netgalley) in about three days, and I know Louisa will haunt me a bit for days to come when I'm still thinking about this book. Five out of five stars.
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