Skip to main content


Literary Friday: The Vanishers

Friday, April 20, 2012


This week I read The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits .  I almost wish I hadn't.  {almost}  This book has received rave reviews and was recommended to me by several sources.  If you decide to read it, please be forewarned that the synopses I read beforehand are misleading.  This deception is almost understandable because the plot is very convoluted and unnecessarily complicated.

Basically, the story is about a twenty-something Julia Severn, a student at an exclusive New England institute for psychics.  Julia is one of the most talented in her class, and she is soon chosen to be Madame Ackermann's intern.  Ackermann becomes jealous of Julia because Julia completes a complicated regression to solve a mystery for one of Ackermann's clients. Julia is violently attacked psychically, and the assumed attacker is Ackermann.

But what this book is really about is rivalry between women, and believe me it is exhausting to read.  There is conflict between basically all of the female characters.  With women treating each other so poorly, who needs men to challenge or oppress?  Women can destroy each other all on their own without help from men.  Oh, joy!   Unfortunately, Julia is a very unlikable character, and I really do not care what happens to her because she behaves so badly.  Karma is a....female, too, Julia!  There is no rest for the wicked in this story, and if you are dead, that is no excuse NOT to cause mayhem. Ghosts as well as psychic vampires mean to harm Julia, too.

There is too much psychobabble in the book.  I appreciate T.S. Eliot as well as other modernists, but a novel full of numbed, Prufrock-like zombies is too much for me.  I do not want to write a spoiler about what the title means, but I will tell you that it reflects a selfishness that makes me sad.  I am tired of entitled, whiny victims who never take responsibility for their own misery.

The prose in The Vanishers is quirky and filled with surprises.  I only wish that Julavits could channel her genius in a much kinder, gentler direction.  Maybe next time she can at least write a book with one likable female character who is not a destructive force against other women.  A simpler plot would be nice, too.

Until next time..

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. I have heard alot about this book, and I'm glad you read & reviewed it. I'll probably pass on this one. Have a super weekend, Ricki Jill!

  2. Well I can cross that one off my list! Life's too short to read bad books. Had to chuckle at "Karma is a female, too!" :)

  3. I hate it when you read a synopsis and it is nothing like the book! Thanks for the review, I will definitely pass on this one! I'm looking forward to reading Tom Clacy's newest book, just waiting for the library to get it!

  4. Oh I do not think I could cope with this it sounds exhausting, as I have never heard of this author I think I can safely give it a miss.
    I think you will find Christina Courtenay a very different style.:)

  5. What a bummer that this book wasn't what you expected. It doesn't sound like my cup of tea either. Thanks for the review.


  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Comments are friendly!


I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

Follow me on Instagram