The Temple House Vanishing

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue

Twenty five years ago a schoolgirl and her Art teacher disappeared without a trace.  Did they run away together?  Was a crime committed?  Did tragedy strike?

A quarter of a century later, a journalist with a personal reason for wanting to uncover the truth, is drawn to the story, intent on solving the mystery once and for all.

16 year old Louisa arrives as a scholarship pupil at the elite Temple House boarding school for girls.  Perched high on cliffs, with the waves crashing on the rocks beneath, the remote Victorian mansion sets the scene for this modern gothic tale.

Louisa quickly develops a complicated friendship with fellow-pupil Victoria, and the two schoolgirls are drawn to their young, bohemian, good looking Art teacher, Mr Lavelle.  The triumvirate enjoy a special relationship which seems to offer sanctuary from the authoritarian regime of the nuns who run the convent school……….that is until Louisa and Mr Lavelle disappear.

The Temple House Vanishing is a haunting tale of obsession, forbidden love, jealousy and envy, told in alternating narratives of past and present by Louisa and the unnamed journalist.

The plot is complex and builds slowly towards its crescendo, which climaxes in a tension-filled epilogue, which I had to read twice to fully appreciate the cruel ending.

This school-set mystery drama, evocative of ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’, is a stunning debut from Irish writer, Rachel Donohue.  I had so many theories whilst reading the book.  I was certain I knew the ending to the story.  But I was wrong...