The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue | #20BooksofSummer

Author : Rachel Donohue
Title : The Temple House Vanishing
Pages : 336
Publisher : Corvus
Publication date : February 6, 2020


In an elite Catholic girls’ boarding-school the pupils live under the repressive, watchful gaze of the nuns. Seeking to break from the cloistered atmosphere two of the students – Louisa and Victoria – quickly become infatuated with their young, bohemian art teacher, and act out passionately as a result. That is, until he and Louisa suddenly disappear.

Years later, a journalist uncovers the troubled past of the school and determines to resolve the mystery of the missing pair. The search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.


Well, I can’t exactly say my 20 Books of Summer is off to a flying start. That is not to say The Temple House Vanishing is a bad book. It is just extremely slow (OMG so slow!) and not at all what I was expecting from the book description. Now, I don’t mind a slow burner but in this instance, it didn’t take me very long to feel like this book just wasn’t for me. Yet I was determined to finish it.

Twenty-five years ago, Louisa and her art teacher disappeared from a boarding school. Now, a journalist with a remarkably flimsy childhood connection to Louisa wants to shine a light on this disappearance and maybe solve the mystery of what happened.

Louisa has never quite fitted in anywhere. Her high grades always singled her out. But it’s those grades and a scholarship that secured her a place at Temple House, a boarding school run by nuns who seem more intent on making sure the students follow their strict and repressive rules as opposed to actually getting a decent education. Here too, Louisa is an outsider from the first day she arrives. She doesn’t come from the right family; isn’t classy, important or rich. But then she meets Victoria and charismatic teacher Edward Lavelle. Victoria seems to be somewhat of a free spirit. She chooses to go her own way, not mingling with the rest of the students but mostly hangs out with Edward Lavelle. The art teacher is by far the most difficult to figure out but it’s obvious that the catholic school setting he finds himself in isn’t for him. And that’s without taking into account all the raging teenage hormones that surround him.

I found that I couldn’t at all connect to any of these characters and I never really felt like I knew them. I admit I got to that point where I just didn’t care what had happened to them. On top of that, I didn’t particularly feel that the mystery surrounding their disappearance was that hard to figure out. That said though, Rachel Donohue did create a gothic atmosphere that I enjoyed and the setting of a boarding school will always fascinate me. Her writing is also extremely beautiful, almost lyrical at times. But too often, I was left with questions. Gaps that needed to be filled somehow. I could give examples but that would be too spoilerish.

All in all, I was quite obviously not the right audience for this novel but if you like literary fiction, I think this will appeal to you.

The Temple House Vanishing is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Hive UK | Kobo | Waterstones

20 Books of Summer : 1/20

  7 comments for “The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue | #20BooksofSummer

  1. June 9, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Sorry to hear this one didn’t quite live up to expectations. I hope the other nineteen on your 20 Books of Summer list will prove more exciting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. June 9, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Pity – the blurb does sound interesting but I’m so tired of slow-burn books – there seem to be millions of them at the moment! Hope the next 19 are fast-paced and thrilling! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 9, 2020 at 2:41 pm

      Me too. I never really used to mind them but my bookworm brain seems to desire something else these days. That was clearly a blip and if it’s going to happen at the start, then that’s fine. I’m on my fifth book so I guess it didn’t affect me too much.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. June 9, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    Hope you have more luck with the rest of your list…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. June 9, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks goodness (and me) that your next reads were better 🤣


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