The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

“She thinks of the dryness of the air of a house abandoned throughout a long, hot summer, the bleached lawns, the dusty, cracked flagstones, the birds nesting in grimy window casements.”


Midsummer 2017: teenage mum Tallulah heads out on a date, leaving her baby son at home with her mother, Kim.

At 11 p.m. she sends her mum a text message. At 4.30 a.m. Kim awakens to discover that Tallulah has not come home.

Friends tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a pool party at a house in the woods nearby called Dark Place.

Tallulah never returns.

2018: walking in the woods behind the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started as a head teacher, Sophie sees a sign nailed to a fence.

A sign that says: DIG HERE...

What I thought

This was my first Lisa Jewell book, recommended to me by my mum actually, and I'm so grateful to Atria Books for the copy. 

Readers are introduced to a cast of characters in the first chapter, which opens on 16 June 2017. We meet Kim Knox, loving mother to nineteen-year-old Tallulah Murray and grandmother to Tallulah's son Noah. She's babysitting for the night while Tallulah and Noah's father Zach Allister head out on a date night, one from which they'll never return. 

The book then transitions back and forth through multiple time periods over the course of a few years, during which the story is told from three points of view. One of Jewell's strong suits, I've read. 

We hear things from Tallulah's perspective before she went missing, her mother Kim's after the disappearance, and from Sophie, a thirty-four-year-old mystery novelist. Sophie has just moved to the area with her teacher boyfriend Shaun, who has accepted the role of Head Teacher at an exclusive private boarding school called Maypole House, close to the Dark Place, where Tallulah was last seen.

One day while on the property she shares with Shaun, Sophie comes across a note that says, “DIG HERE” 

The story from Tallulah’s perspective is fascinating since it gives the reader an entire background story on who Tallulah really was before she went missing. The parts that centre around her mother Kim are well-written and in depth, taking the reader on a journey of a broken-hearted mother in the aftermath of losing a daughter, and those parts told from the perspective of Sophie really helped to add layering and build suspense.

All in all, this is a fabulous, grabbing and plot-twisting slow burn thriller that kept me well within its grips from the opening pages. Jewell left me filled with questions as the plot continued to build with each turn of the page and constantly left me on the hook wanting more at the end of each chapter. 

The writing style is fantastic, detail oriented and vivid, never an element out of place. It's a book with a lot of characters, timelines, and points of view, which can at times be overwhelming and hard to keep track of, but each detail and character seemed to have been put into play for a reason here, and it all ties in together nicely around the middle of the book.

I had high expectations for The Night She Disappeared, after the reviews I'd read online and what I'd heard from my mum, and this book met every expectation, and more. I'm excited to read more of Lisa Jewell's work now. I can't attest to how this one compares to her others, but for me, this was absolutely brilliant, well-crafted, and totally consuming.

Photo by Andrew Whitton

Lisa Jewell is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of nineteen novels, including The Family Upstairs and Then She Was Gone, as well as Invisible Girl and Watching You. Her novels have sold over 5 million copies internationally, and her work has also been translated into twenty-nine languages.

The Night She Disappeared is available for purchase at Indigo and in e-book format on Kobo. Check GoodReads for additional retailers.

Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for my advanced reader's copy in exchange for this honest review.