The Vanishing Act is one of those novels that appear from nowhere, you read it in one sitting and it transports you away from your life leaving you pondering the intricacies of life. It’s a philosophical novel that questions the emotions that push us through life and the decisions we make.
This small gem of a book revolves around a small snow covered island where only a small handful of people live. The central character is twelve year old Minou whose Mother vanished from the island a year before wearing her best shoes and carrying an umbrella. Mette Jakobsen uses nameless characters to surround Minou which allow the reader to project their own imagination into them. Boxman is a magician who lives with his dog – No Name, then there is Priest and of course Minou’s philosopher father.
One day as a dead boy washes up on the beach, Minou wonders if his appearance has anything to do with her mother’s disappearance. Through her investigation we are shown glimpses of the past and insights into the souls of the cast. Jakobsen writes with such beauty and mystery, in fact, it’s comparable to The Snow Child in its atmosphere and grasp. As the book progresses the ensemble are revealed to be very human in their experiences and the consequences are devastating to Minou.
Despite the cold façade there is warmth to the story and the community within. In one moment of reminiscence we’re shown an evening when everyone came together to put on a magic show with Minou’s mother as the centrepiece. It’s a heart-warming instance that shows the love on the tiny island and it sweeps the reader into their embrace.
The Vanishing Act is a novel that asks more questions than it answers and this can frustrate a little, especially when you’ve connected with the characters so well by the end. But, it is a wonderful little book that feels like peering into a model village and watching the miniature people live their existence.
Published by Vintage. This book was kindly sent by the publisher for review.