The Vanishers

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March 19, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

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

The Vanishers

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Heidi Julavits
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The Vanishers

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