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The Missing Years: 07/24/20

The Missing Years

The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott is set in the Highlands of Scotland at an old manor rumored to be haunted or cursed. Ailsa Calder and her half-sister have returned, twenty-seven years after their father disappeared with a case of diamonds. With her father still not declared dead, they can't sell or rent the house. All they can do is live in it or leave it rot.

The Manse is as much a character as Ailsa and Carrie. It is a place with a history. It's a place where animals refuse to enter. It's a place that is giving Ailsa nightmares. It's a place her neighbor Fiona is obsessed with and will do anything to enter, whether or not she's invited.

The choice of character names, though, made for some humorous unintentional crossover scenes in my imagination. I happened to be reading The Missing Years at the same time as Death and Daisies by Amanda Flower (2018). With both books being set in rural Scotland and centered on magical houses with many of the same character names, the lighter cozy kept bleeding into this psychological thriller.

Despite the eerie setting and the weird goings on, The Missing Years is a contemporary, realistic mystery. The paranormal is explained, as is the father's whereabouts. An observant reader can figure out the mystery, although it's not as obvious as many of the mysteries I've recently read.

Although this novel is set in Scotland and is written by an English author, it sits as an outlier on the road narrative spectrum. While fiction from the UK isn't as universally tied to the road as North American fiction is, themes and tropes do appear from time to time. That is the case here.

Ailsa and Carrie are sibling travelers (CC). Sure, they are nearly strangers. They are only half sisters and there is a large age gap between the two. Ailsa remembers happy times in the Manse; Carrie doesn't. But they are now compelled to return to the Manse.

The destination may physically be the Manse, but it's the history of the Manse. It's also the mystery of where did their father go? It's all the memories good and bad and the rumors that have taken root around the Manse. Essentially, the destination is uhoria (CC).

Their route is the maze (CC). The landscape outside has changed (flooding and mudslides). The Manse itself is full of hidden secrets and hidden dangers. The route to learning the truth is fraught with danger and blind alleys.

All together, then, The Lost Years can been read as a tale of siblings traveling through the maze to uhoria (CCCCCC).

Lexie Elliot's next book is How to Kill Your Best Friend.

Five stars

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