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The Vanishers review - Heidi Julavits

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PSYCHIC UNRAVELING Though the plot circles around clairvoyant mind games, the real backbone to Julavits' novel is her severe look into female relationships

The Vanishers

Current Status:
In Season
Heidi Julavits

We gave it a B

Must women attack other women to get ahead? Heidi Julavits explores that dark question in The Vanishers, an ambitious follow-up to her 2006 novel, The Uses of Enchantment. Vanishers focuses on rival clairvoyants: Julia, who’s tracking down a missing artist, and her mentor, Madame Ackermann, who’s so jealous of Julia she launches a psychic assault on her. What follows is an absorbing meditation on female competition with Hitchcockian twists. Is Ackermann really playing mind games, or is Julia making herself sick with paranoia? Did the missing artist know Julia’s dead mother, or are women just doomed to view one another as reflections of their moms? The mysteries are gripping, but Julavits’ view of female relationships can be so grim it’s almost antifeminist. Surely a little sisterhood exists, even among evil psychics? B