Friday 30 September 2022

'In the Vanishing Hour' by Sarah Beth Martin | Book Review ★★★★☆

The best parts of historical fiction are the ones that take us back to a certain time and a certain place. We get to learn more about what people wore, how they thought and what the atmosphere was like during that time. For me, historical fiction doesn't even need to be centred around major historical events, I'm just looking for glimpses into the past. When I picked up Sarah Beth Martin's In the Vanishing Hour, it was with this in mind - I was captivated by the idea of twin mysteries set in a small Massachusetts town in the early 1950s and 1970s.

In the Vanishing Hour by Sarah Beth Martin | book banner

Frances Adams is haunted by the death of her brother Mac in 1951. He was just a teenager when he drowned in the Charles River and Frances cannot escape the weight of his loss. When she gets a job as a window dresser in a department store, Frances meets model Gwen who invites her into a world of fashion, lights, fragrance and colour. It is a world where Frances can reinvent herself and become so much more than the sister of a dead brother.

When tragedy strikes again, Frances is drawn into a web of mysteries that will force her to confront not only her own past and that of her family, but also the secrets that Gwen sought to solve.

In the Vanishing Hour by Sarah Beth Martin | book coverWith hints of fern, teal and emerald in the book cover, In the Vanishing Hour is a whole mood. I loved being immersed in the heady days of late-50s fashions, propriety and women's aspirations to enter the workforce and be something more. This was contrasted with the yellow brown aesthetic of the early 70s, with a decidedly more laid-back vibe tinged with edges of regret.

Throughout the novel, Sarah Beth Martin digs deep into the impact of the events that haunt us, the mysteries that weigh us down and the impossible task of moving forward in a world that you never imagined for yourself.

I enjoyed In the Vanishing Hour both as a mystery and as a work of historical fiction. Mystery thrillers are no longer my bag, which is strange given that I read every Kellerman and Cornwell back in the day, but the mystery here was interesting and poignant enough to keep me interested with a lesser emphasis on danger and none of the gory details.

For a vivid and mysterious journey through time, I give In the Vanishing Hour an excellent four out of five stars.


I received an electronic copy of this graphic novel from Book Sirens. I will always provide an honest review, whether books are provided to me or purchased by me


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