I had read "Tiger Lily" by Anderson and absolutely LOVED it. The characters, the plot, the twists, the writing--it is by far one of my favorite books of all time. So when I saw "The Vanishing Season" available on audiobook at my local library, I thought I'd give it a try.
As with "Tiger Lily", the strength of this book was not the plot but the characters. I was able to immediately relate to Maggie and the struggles she has as a teenage girl trying to fit into a new town and find friends. The relationship she builds with Pauline over the course of the story is complex and confusing and wonderful all at once. I loved this aspect of the story, because interactions between friends are oftentimes very complicated and it is frustrating for me to read books about friendship where everything is always sunshine and rainbows. Life is complicated, people are complicated, and hardly anything is simple and straightforward.
Despite the fact that Anderson was able to create interesting, complex characters, the plot of this book is unfortunately almost non-existent. This is particularly frustrating given the fact that there is so much potential here. There are girls being murdered left and right, a ghost narrator, and yet Anderson chooses to brush these things to the side. Even by the end of the book I did not feel like I knew anything at all about the murders, the murderer, or the background of the ghost narrator. The book would have been stronger if these elements had been eliminated altogether if they were not going to be addressed and developed properly.
Overall, this was a fairly okay read, I just wish more attention had been given to the murders and ghost, especially given the fact that the book is called "The Vanishing Season". I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy books with strong characters with complex relationships, and are not bothered by lack of plot.