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The Temple House Vanishing

by Rachel Donohue

Modern and Contemporary Fiction Thriller and Suspense Crime and Mystery Debuts Sharing Diverse Voices Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Debut Books of the Month Literary Fiction

LoveReading Expert Review of The Temple House Vanishing

A 25 year old mystery is investigated in this assured and compelling debut, that burns with an intense, provocative fire.

Burning with an intense, provocative fire, this is a debut that doesn’t flinch from the troubled world it creates. 25 years ago, a 16 year old school girl and her teacher disappeared, now a journalist investigates the mystery at the heart of the boarding school. The prologue intrigues, answering a question while bursting open many more. I felt a seductive unsettling call and settled in. Three women sit centre stage in this story, the missing Louisa, her friend Victoria, and the journalist. I gained access to the school and sank into the heady highs and lows of teenage years. A veil of mystery covers Temple House, the school sits in both time periods, a chilling constant between the two. It is as much about the unsaid, the unseen, as it is what is revealed, and Rachel Donohue handles the balance with surety. The ending really spoke to me, it opened my thoughts and encouraged them to travel. I have no doubt that The Temple House Vanishing will stay with me for some time to come, it is an assured and compelling debut.

Liz Robinson

The Temple House Vanishing Synopsis

Power. Jealousy. Desire.

Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…

When Louisa arrives at Temple House, an elite catholic boarding school, she quickly finds herself drawn to sophisticated fellow pupil Victoria and their young bohemian art teacher, Mr Lavelle. The three of them form a bond that seems to offer an escape from the repressive regime of the nuns who run the cloistered school. Until Louisa and Mr Lavelle suddenly vanish.

Years later, a journalist with a childhood connection to Louisa determines to resolve the mystery. Her 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.

The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and unintended consequences.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781786499394
Publication date: 3rd September 2020
Author: Rachel Donohue
Publisher: Corvus an imprint of Atlantic Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 336 pages
Collections: 90+ books that dare you to take a walk on the dark side., 100+ Female Led Crime Fiction,
Primary Genre Thriller and Suspense
Other Genres:
Recommendations:
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The Temple House Vanishing Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

Fantastic story that will keep the reader turning page after page till the end. This is a must buy!!

This is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. This is a must buy!!

The excellent debut book by Rachel Donohue which will keep readers enthralled. Rachel writes with passion and commitment and the way the storyline unfolds as the reader progresses through the book is superb. The story itself fulfils many genres and it's a dark mystery that the reader finds in the book makes this one of the best written.

You have got to read this book it thrills and excites with hesitant pauses here and there grabbing the readers full attention as the story fluidly enfolds with the authors writing style.

The storyline - you must buy the book to discover and it's a masterpiece

Catherine Bryce

Wow! Just wow! I had goosebumps when I finished. I could not put this book down and now I’ve just finished it I want to start all over again! For a debut novel, this is just incredible.

I cannot rate this book highly enough. The cover itself was intriguing and as I read the book I realised that the cover links to the fact that the story is about art and an art teacher.

The novel is written in sections, from two peoples perspectives - the journalist and Louisa. This works really well. It helps to build the tension and to give different perspectives on the happenings at Temple House and ‘The Girls On The Hill’.

Louisa starts a new school, run by nuns, where she is the scholarship girl amongst the rich and entitled. It is here that she meets Victoria and Mr Lavelle the art teacher. Their story involves love, art, fantasy and betrayal.

The way that Rachel Donohue writes sucks you in from the very beginning. Somehow she is able to write so that parts of the story are almost laxidasical, while others are more frenetic. I actually found my heart racing at times. As it is partially set in the ’80s, I found a lot I could relate to and remember, being a child of the 80's myself.

This book has touched my heart and soul. If this is a debut, I shall most definitely be watching the progress of Ms Donohue's writing in the future. I am now her number one fan. Thank you for sharing your creativity and art with us all.

Amanda O'Dwyer

An atmospheric and unsettling read.

There is a mystery but it doesn’t feel like a mystery. The story is told alternately by Louisa in the past and a journalist in the present. Louisa arrives as a new scholarship student at the Temple House School and is immediately fascinated by the relationship between another student, Victoria, and the art teacher, Mr Lavelle. Alternating with this, a journalist is investigating the disappearance of Louisa and Mr Lavelle… so, a mystery.

I found myself hurrying through the journalist chapters to get back to the obsessive world of Victoria, Louisa and Mr Lavelle. Reading this book felt like trying to fight your way through layers of overgrown vines or peering through distorted thick old glass in an attempt to reveal what is hidden underneath. The ivy on the cover felt very appropriate. It is a lazy, slow unwinding of the past leading to the final reveal in the very last few pages. An atmospheric and unsettling read.

Rachel Aygin

This story was engaging and I was on the edge of my seat. I loved it.

This is the story of two people who have gone missing from an Elite Catholic boarding school. Louisa and her art teacher. Years go by and then a Journalist happens to come across it and decides to resolve the mystery of what actually happened.

This story was engaging and I was on the edge of my seat. I loved it.

Soph Ufton

Reminded me of Picnic at Hanging Rock. I loved it

I really enjoyed this book, it was really interesting and engaging from the very beginning and I read it too quickly as I wanted to know what was going to happen.


I liked Louisa's character a lot. I felt sorry for her because she'd earned a scholarship but all the privileged girls knew this. I disliked Victoria who seemed fake and arrogant and didn't deserve Louisa's friendship.

Rachel Donohue is a good writer, I was pulled into the story very quickly and wanted to know how it was all going to end.

This reminded me of Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Charlie Pritchard-Williams

A dark, atmospheric tale of love and desire set in a convent school, in the 90s.

This book has a dramatic opening and builds gradually to an equally dramatic conclusion. It tells the story of two schoolgirls, Louisa and Victoria and their teacher, Mr Lavelle, and the events leading up the disappearance of Mr Lavelle and Louisa, who appeared to vanish without trace twenty five years ago. The story is told by Louisa and by a journalist who decides to follow the story and try to find out what happened to them.
The author creates a dark, sinister atmosphere by setting the story in a very traditional and exclusive convent school, where the three main characters don't fit in, for a variety of reasons. The school is in an old house by the sea and the author conveys a sense of unease and fear in her use of language.
The pace is quite slow and it takes a long time to build to a conclusion - I would have preferred less description of every emotion felt by the characters but it is a book that will stay with me for quite a while. I didn't see the end coming!

Evelyn Love-Gajardo

This is definitely one to watch. THE TEMPLE HOUSE VANISHING is so atmospheric, chilling and dark, with so much mystery about it. I honestly was hooked from the prologue; it’s gripping from the get go!

Wow! Talk about a sinister debut?! This book is so atmospheric, dark, haunting and has so much mystery about it. I honestly was hooked from the prologue; it’s good from the get-go! Jealousy, teenage passion, obsession...talk about intense!

There are so many secrets running through this book; I didn’t trust anyone. The characters were all flawed and quite unlikeable, but it suited the tone of the narrative perfectly. I really liked how the book was structured as it flowed back and forth in time between the POV of The Journalist and Louisa. It’s a slow burner so all the lies and secrets are delicately unravelled. The ending is so tragic and shocking; I didn’t see it coming at all. The epilogue is beautifully written; it took my breath away! Such a well written and absorbing book. For me, this has real vibes of The Secret History and Fake Like Me. And it’s a debut?!! How incredible.

If you love books full of suspense and mystery, definitely check this one out. In my view, this would make a perfect TV series.

Emily Dudley

If you love mysteries, thrillers, disappearances and unpredictable endings – I will guarantee you will love this book. And not only that, but you will also devour it in a day!

Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…
The Temple House Vanishing left me with a tiny scar in my soul after reading it. It is intriguing and mysterious, it is real and delusional. The next time when I mention a special mystery, with a cruel end – this will be the first book that pops in my mind.

Louisa and Victoria are two friends that study in a Catholic girls’ boarding school. Both of them have something unique about themselves. They can both see the world in a different light and disobey the rules slightly.

They both also manage to become intrigued with their young, bohemian teacher and act in silly ways when they are around him. Until, one night, he and Louisa suddenly disappear.

Twenty-five years later, one journalist dives into the story again, hoping to finally find out the truth. The search for truth will uncover many buried secrets and a suppressed desire. It will break hearts and lay a lost soul to rest.

This novel might be the most intense novel I have read in 2019, right next to The Silent Patient. And The Devil Aspect. To witness the life of Louisa, and be aware of what is happening around her is quite intense. As soon as she meets Victoria, they click, and they both know they will become best friends. But even Louisa can feel that there is something odd about Victoria. After all, her last best friend left the school and no one knows what happened.

On that subject – why didn’t we find out what happened to this girl?

The teacher reminded me of one of my high-school teachers. The type of person that will show you that the world isn’t how you’ve always known it. There is a meaning behind it all, and there is a purpose for everything. My teacher, she could make me feel like I was able to achieve everything. Anything was possible, if we only followed the right path. Mr Lavelle made all the girls feel like this, and counting his beautiful face as well, it’s no surprise that most of them fell in love with him. But he encouraged them, in his own subtle way. Sweet look in the eyes, gentle touch on the shoulder, and that is all it takes to confuse a teenage girl.

What I loved most in this book was the fact that I had so many theories whilst reading it. I was certain I knew how it all ended. But I was wrong. I didn’t have a clue on what was actually happening until the very end, and I was still surprised. After finishing the book and having a little think, as I always do with books that amaze me – I realised something. The clues were there from the very beginning. But unless you already know the ending I doubt you will notice them. And that is the great masterpiece of writing. And for that, I salute you, Rachel Donohue.

If you love mysteries, thrillers, disappearances and unpredictable endings – I will guarantee you will love this book. And not only that, but you will also devour it in a day!

Ivana - Diary of Difference

Rachel Donohue Press Reviews

‘This brooding tale of obsessive love, teenage jealousy and hidden desire has a dark charm’ The i paper

‘Atmospheric, creepy, tense and utterly absorbing’ Harriet Tyce

‘Clean prose, subtle characters and intrigue to keep the pages turning’ Mike McCormack

‘Chilling’ Christine Dwyer Hickey

‘Exquisite’ Jo Spain

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781786499394
Publication date: 03/09/2020
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781786499387
Publication date: 06/02/2020
Format: Hardback

View All Editions

About Rachel Donohue

Rachel Donohue lives in Dublin where she works in communications. In 2017 she won the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award for her short fiction. The Temple House Vanishing was her first novel published in 2020, an Irish Times bestseller, it was nominated for a best newcomer award at the Irish Book Awards and for the Kate O’Brien Award for first fiction. Her new novel The Beauty of Impossible Things was published in May this year. Instagram @rachellucydonohue

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