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Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Vanishing by Tim Krabbé

As the nights start drawing in and a chill settles in the air I am finding myself drawn to the more spooky titles on my bookshelf, keen for a scare. The Vanishing has been in my possession for ages but I have always been reluctant to read it until now, as the 1988 adaptation is one of my all-time favourite scary movies and I was worried that the book just wouldn't live up to my expectations.


The RIP VII challenge seemed like a perfect excuse to finally give this novella a chance, so on a blustery autumn day I curled up with a big mug of tea and read it in almost one single sitting.


The Vanishing (or Het Gouden Ei as the original Dutch novel was called) centres on Rex, a young man whose girlfriend disappears at a service station one summer evening and is never seen again. In the years that follow, his life is profoundly affected by what happened and he invests a huge amount of time and effort in trying to track Saskia down - sometimes at the expense of other close relationships. It soon becomes apparent that whoever is responsible for her disappearance is closer than Rex had imagined. But how far will he go to find the answers he has been waiting for?

This is a short but perfectly formed book. For me, it excels in giving the reader a glimpse into the mind of a killer. It is chilling to read the simple and matter-of-fact thought processes that lead a seemingly ordinary human being to commit murder. Krabbé's villain is so scary precisely because he is so 'normal', a man that you can easily imagine passing by in the street or bumping into at the supermarket. The tension builds and builds until the terrifying finale. Even though I knew exactly what to expect, having seen the film, I was at the edge of my seat for the last chapter.

It's difficult for me to say which I would recommend doing first - watching the film or reading the book? Usually the book wins every time, but in the case of The Vanishing I'm not so sure. I think if you're unfamiliar with the story then to be honest I'd probably recommend watching the original Dutch movie first, as the ending is one of the most shocking and memorable I can think of. However, even if you know what's coming, this little book is still a really worthwhile read and a good one to pick up for Halloween.

4 comments:

  1. Oh definitely one of the most memorable endings ever! I don't think I could read the book again. It's too good! :-)

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    1. It is one of those endings where the surprise and the suspense is half the fun. If I read it again I don't think I would enjoy it nearly as much!

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  2. I haven't heard of either the book or the movie. It sounds a bit scary for me but I'll see if my library has a copy.

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    1. It is really scary but in a very understated way - nothing too gruesome or gory about it. Plus as a bonus it's only a very short little book so if you can get it from the library it's definitely worth giving it a go!

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