Mette Jakobson’s The Vanishing Act is well written, interesting and very different from a lot of other novels that look at love, relationships, family and loss. However, it just falls short of pulling off the alternative masterpiece it felt like it could have been in the first few pages.
Told from the perspective of a young girl called Minou, who lives on a snow hit island with her father, a priest, a magician’s box maker and a dog with no name, The Vanishing Act has a lot going for it. The addition of the appearance of a dead boy’s body on the island’s shores, the fact that Minou’s mum had disappeared a year earlier in fraught circumstances and her father’s obsession with philosophical truth adds to the unusual tale of the little island.
However, the story gives itself away all too easy at a very early stage, so you see it all spanning out before you, long before it unfolds in the story. The feeling of an impending surprise is lost, leaving you with an inevitable read to the end of the short book.
While The Vanishing Act is really well written by Mette Jakobson, with sparse beauty and whimsical imagination, the early sparkle of the book fades as the reality of the story becomes clear. There’s a lot to make you think, especially the dysfunctional interplay between feelings and philosophical thought, but ultimately there’s too much of a sense of disappointment.
With comparisons to books like The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time and Life Of Pi, which is set to be released as a major motion pictures later this year, the book has a unique perspective and outlook on life, which is one of its best features. It’s brings a refreshing quality to the narrative of the story, making up for the sense of the inevitable that mars the plot.
The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobson review: 3/5
Mette Jakobson’s The Vanishing Act is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.