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The book I’ll be reviewing today was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021. A mystery about an obsessed true crime fan searching for her favourite podcast host who has gone missing? That’s exactly what I want to read.
So I was very grateful to receive an ARC to review. But alas I think my hopes were too high because I unfortunately didn’t enjoy this book. My review will explain my reasons why. But I want to make it clear that these are my subjective opinions. Many other reviewers have given this 5 stars and absolutely loved it. So yeah, please be gentle – I’ve never had to write a critical review before!
Many thanks to Little Brown Book Group and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If I Disappear
by Eliza Jane Brazier
Date of Publication: 26th January 2021
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Format: eBook (254 pages)
Sera loves true crime podcasts. The mysteries become an unlikely comfort for her, and then an obsession.
So when Rachel, her favourite podcast host, goes missing from a small rural town in Northern California, Sera decides to act. She heads to the isolated ranch where Rachel disappeared, determined to discover what’s happened to her.
But the more Sera digs into this unfamiliar world, the more off things start to feel.
Because Rachel is not the first woman to vanish from the ranch, and she won’t be the last . . .
Rachel did try to warn her.
animal cruelty and injury
discussion of true crimes
Okay, jumping straight in. But again – these are my personal opinions and are not intended as a criticism of the author’s work. This book just didn’t work for me.
I’m going to start with the stuff I didn’t enjoy. First of all, the narrative. It’s told through Sera’s POV but is directed at the missing woman, Rachel. At times, this built tension. At others, it became kind of confusing. Sera’s internal dialogue was also a bit too repetitive for my liking. As a character, she came across as obsessive, unreliable and unlikable so it was hard to connect with her.
My next issue was the lack of a mystery. Our main character is convinced that her favourite podcast host is missing. But their relationship is entirely superficial. So Sera shows up in this small town to solve the case and all of the people that actually know Rachel are adamant that she didn’t disappear. Well, almost everybody. (Rachel’s parents believe she’s been murdered but are shockingly blasé about it.)
Days go by, there’s no evidence, no leads. And then boom. Stuff happens. And all of a sudden, people come forward with information. Interesting information, at that. So I feel like had that information been presented earlier, it would have made the book more thrilling for me. Instead, it was just a twist ending that didn’t work for me.
Finally, there’s the matter of animal cruelty and neglect. On the Bards’ ranch, there are a lot of animals. Too many. They aren’t cared for beyond the bare minimum and sometimes not even that. Contextually, I see the importance in terms of the family’s attitude towards death but these elements made me very uncomfortable.
While I didn’t like the book as a whole, there were still things that I did like. For instance, some of the twists were brilliant. 100% did-not-see-that-coming type of twists. The world building was also phenomenal. I feel like setting often takes a backseat in thrillers but this was solid and I genuinely felt like I was there. The claustrophobia radiating through Sera’s narrative of the wilderness and small town America really helped with this and added a unique layer of tension.
Overall, I’m not disappointed that I read this book. I don’t feel like it was time wasted or anything like that. I’m just disappointed that I didn’t enjoy something I’d expected to love. I have no doubt that this will appeal to others more than it did to me so I suggest checking it out and making your own judgments. After all, it’s entirely subjective.
- Small town/secluded ranch setting
- Features excerpts from a true crime podcast
- Set mostly outdoors
- An entire community of unreliable characters
Read this if you…
- Love true crime podcasts
- Want something a little different in your mystery/thrillers
Thanks for stopping by to check out my review of If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier! If I’ve piqued your interest, you can pre-order it today or grab a copy once it releases on the 26th of January.
Will you be reading If I Disappear? Let me know in the comments below.