Harper Collins, 1994; 227 pages
It promises to be an idyllic vacation — a lovely old house on the Cornish coast where Peter Clare can finish writing a collection of short stories and where his wife Sarah can paint — a place where they can try to rebuild what is left of their troubled marriage. The spectacular cliff overlooking the sea, the wild gardens and woodlands — everything is perfect, or is it?
From the moment they enter Petherick House, Sarah feels the dark menace surround them and knows they should leave at once. But Peter thinks it's just nerves and dismisses Sarah's fears — until she disappears without a trace. Suddenly Peter can see the shadowy figures in the night and hear a child's desperate weeping, but the nightmare has only begun.
With its chilling undertones of mounting fear and raging vengeance, The Vanishment is a classic tale of terror that reaches into the dark recesses of the imagination.
Another book I read earlier this year but never reviewed. I actually started reading this one last year, but put it aside when I was having trouble keeping up with all the advance copies I needed to read. Didn't really remember all I'd read, so I started over and managed to finish in just a couple of days.
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. Have to admit, though — the main character seemed so totally self-involved and oblivious to the feelings of others, it was hard to develop any real sympathy for him. And some of the action was more than slightly disturbing — as other readers have pointed out, the theme of child endangerment is always unpleasant even though it is traditionally a staple of "supernatural" lit.
Still, with Aycliffe you know going in that the tale isn't going to be a pretty one. It was spooky and kept me up late, reading — and that's mainly what I look for in a ghost story.