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ARC Review: If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier

Synopsis: When her favorite true crime podcast host goes missing, an adrift young woman plunges headfirst into the wild backcountry of Northern California and her own dangerous obsession.

Sera loves true crime podcasts. They make her feel empowered in a world where women just like her disappear daily. She's sure they are preparing her for something. So when Rachel, her favorite podcast host, goes missing, Sera knows it's time to act. Rachel has always taught her to trust her instincts.

Sera follows the clues hidden in the episodes to an isolated ranch outside Rachel's small hometown to begin her search. She's convinced her investigation will make Rachel so proud. 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.

Thoughts: As a fan of true crime podcasts and podcasts in thrillers I had to read this. I'll admit the cover is interesting too. I do plan to re-read this and listen to the audio book when it's available because I need to hear those podcast elements. Sera is searching for her favorite podcaster, Rachel, after she goes missing. She heads to Rachel's small hometown and ends up finding a way to insert herself into Rachel's family's life. She gets a job working on the ranch where Rachel lived and slowly but surely the tale unfolds and it's ominous and just plain creepy. There's weird cats and sickly looking dogs, horses turning on one another, weird poisons to kill overrun blackberry bushes, no internet, no cell phone service, and literally everyone from the parents to Jeb, the ranch hand, are strange. I found it very difficult trying to imagine where the story was taking me, where I would end up, and there were many times that Sera felt watched, but she never gave up, never tried to leave. Even more odd is how everyone from Rachel's parents to Jeb to Rachel's brother, and friends, even the cops all had theories where Rachel was or what happened to her, yet no one except Sera really seemed concerned about her disappearance. Everything stayed just on the wrong side of right and it kept me guessing and curious if Sera was on the right track, if she would solve the case, but the ending left me puzzled more than once. Since I honestly had no clue what was happening, I couldn't figure out what I expected exactly yet the ending left me just in that state of "huh..." and when things started being revealed it just got more and more weird until the last page. I can't say it's an ambiguous ending because it's pretty much spelled out, but I got whiplash with the twists and it made it feel like I just needed a tiny bit more. Like I said at the beginning I do hope to re-read this one when it releases in January 2021, hear the podcast elements, see the story a bit more polished, and see what I think the second go around.

Rating: ★★★

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