Book Reviews

Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

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Released: June 2019 UK, August 2019 USA
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 448
Rating: 4/5

A gripping and twisty thriller perfect for your summer reading list.


A sleepy seaside down in southwest England is shaken to its core when a beautiful and sheltered young teenager named Flora disappeared without a trace. Eighteen years later, Flora’s remaining family is once again blasted across the headlines when it appears her younger sister brutally murdered two people at random before turning the gun on herself.

Trying to make sense of it all is a Bristol reporter named Jess, who not only grew up in the seaside town but was once so close to Flora’s family she was practically a member of their household. Trying to salvage her career, she is thrown back into the past she tried so hard to leave behind, all whilst dealing with her own personal demons that have followed her to Bristol.


All right Claire Douglas, we need to have a talk because I’m a little upset with you. Your latest book cost me two nights of sleep because I could not put it down. From the moment I read the dramatic and mysterious prologue I was hooked, desperate to know more. As far as summer thrillers go, this one ticked all the boxes. It was an easy read, but also quite gripping and dark.

Then She Vanishes was an intricate tale about the bond between sisters, mother and daughter, and childhood friends. Bonds that can withstand the test of time and trauma and come out stronger for it. This was also a tale about the seedy underbelly simmering beneath the idyllic surface of a picturesque coastal town.

“Twisty” is an overused term these days when it comes to this genre but in this case it aptly applies. Especially with the way all these characters’ lives were still intertwined nearly two decades later, often in ways none of them could possibly fathom. It was a complex story full of emotion and intrigue that often kept me guessing. Some of the twists seemed really bizarre and impossible at first, but eventually they all (mostly) came together and made horrible sense in the end.

My only real criticism is about the main character, Jess. Her whole “I had a hard childhood so I push everyone away!” schtick fell a little flat. She had absent parents growing up and the secrets she’s kept all these years about Flora’s disappearance obviously had an effect on her. But for me, her behaviour seemed a little much. She mostly just came across as selfish, especially with how she treated those who loved her most.

She was still a likable character, though, especially with her moral dilemmas about being a reporter reporting on people she used to think of like family. It was refreshing to see a member of the press have that much integrity when it came to such a sensational story!


I read a lot of heavy books so fast-paced thrillers like this are a guilty pleasure of mine, especially during the summer when I can devour these books out in the sunshine. Although I made the mistake of reading this one right before bed, costing me several precious hours of sleep.

For what it is, it’s done well. If you’re looking for a unique thriller that’ll keep you turning the pages, look no further than Then She Vanishes.

Buy/Pre-order a copy of this gripping thriller on

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