Zoe Whittaker is living a charmed life. She is the beautiful young wife to handsome, charming Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker. She is a member of Manhattan’s social elite. She is on the board of one of the city’s most prestigious philanthropic organizations. She has a perfect Tribeca penthouse in the city and a gorgeous lake house in the country. The finest wine, the most up-to-date fashion, and the most luxurious vacations are all at her fingertips. What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her. As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she—whoever she is—vanishes completely.
The Vanishing Year is a completely absorbing book, a well-crafted thriller that keeps you engaged from the first page until its explosive ending. Although the plot seemed a bit too familiar (a successful young woman with a dark past), the book stands out from the majority of psychological thrillers out there. The writing is compelling and the final pages were unputdownable.
Zoe and Henry Whittaker are one of NY’s most successful couples. They are deeply in love and live in an expensive apartment: everything seems perfect. However, behind closed doors, Henry claims he never wants to lose her and he might be a bit too controlling. And Zoe has a dark and mysterious past that doesn’t want anyone to know about. Zoe also wants to find out what happened to her biological mother, although someone is trying to prevent her from investigating further…
One of the themes of this book is, clearly, the importance of second (and third) chances. I loved how Cash -who was a truly great character- told Zoe that her past didn’t really matter as long as she had changed. A lot of people make mistakes and then reinvent themselves, so why should we mind? And why should be always defined by our past? That’s why I loved the last sentence so much and it made me think of how we sometimes judge people based on their past actions when it’s clear that they’re not the same person anymore.
Plot-wise, The Vanishing Year had a few surprises up its sleeve, so twist-lovers don’t need to worry about this one. I had no idea what to think about the mystery until I reached the 70% mark. Enter the first “twist”, which was the one that helped me guess the final surprise. Despite that, I still had a lot to find out and I was wrong about many things! Especially regarding some of the minor characters.
If I had to point something negative, I’d say that the “past chapters” weren’t really necessary, especially because there were only a couple of them and the rest of the book was set in the present. Zoe recalls her past life often, so maybe she could’ve done just that. In addition, some details regarding the conclusion were a bit far-fetched but the ending was so satisfying that I almost didn’t mind. It was super twisty and shady and you all know how much I love these things. I’m afraid I can’t say much more without giving too much away.
I’d recommend this book to fans of addictive and compulsive psychological thrillers, the type of books that keep you guessing from the very start. If you’re intrigued by family secrets and dark pasts, I think this might be the right book for you. Of course, be prepared to hate some of the characters and prepare to get increasingly frustrated as you keep reading. This could easily become one of those “it” books everyone talks about.
Atria Books, 2016
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kate Moretti is the New York Times bestselling author of Thought I Knew You, Binds That Tie, and While You Were Gone. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. Find out more at katemoretti.com, or follow her on Twitter (@KateMoretti1) or Facebook (KateMorettiWriter).