It isn’t ten-year-old Pia’s fault that her grandmother dies in a freak accident. But tell that to the citizens of Pia’s little German hometown of Bad Münstereifel, or to the classmates who shun her. The only one who still wants to be her friend is StinkStefan, the most unpopular child in school.
But then something else captures the community’s attention: the vanishing of Katharina Linden. Katharina was last seen on a float in a parade, dressed as Snow White. Then, like a character in a Grimm’s fairy tale, she disappears. But, this being real life, she doesn’t return.
Pia and Stefan suspect that Katharina has been spirited away by the supernatural. Their investigation is inspired by the instructive—and cautionary—local legends told to them by their elderly friend Herr Schiller, tales such as that of Unshockable Hans, visited by witches in the form of cats, or of the knight whose son is doomed to hunt forever.
Then another girl disappears, and Pia is plunged into a new and unnerving place, one far away from fairy tales—and perilously close to adulthood.
When someone tells you that a certain author is someone to watch, I always feel a bit wary. I want to experience the same sort of love that they felt, but I always end up disappointed.
Which is why, I’m pleasantly surprised that I loved this book so much. Helen Grant really brought forth an amazing debut and I can’t wait to read more from her. If she continues writing excellent novels like this, then I agree with my fellow reader who says she is one to watch.
But enough about her, what about her book?
The premise of ’The Vanishing of Katharina Linden’ is fairly simplistic. Children are disappearing in the small town of Bad Münstereifel and two 10 year olds, Pia and Stefan, decide to solve the case. But in a town like this, secrets don’t always come out that easily and soon, they’ll find themselves discovering more than just the killer. They’ll discover a side to their old town that they wish they never knew.
Add in some family drama, some supernatural, and a town that truly comes to life with every page that you read and you’ve got ’The Vanishing of Katharina Linden.’
I don’t really want to sound like a fangirl, but this was the best book I’ve read this year….even though it was released two years ago. Grant’s writing style and world takes hold of you and refuses to let you go until you finish the novel. I found myself staying up late trying to find out what happens next.
There is a lot of great things in this novel, but sadly, it isn’t perfect. The mystery surrounding the disappearances is a bit predictable and while normally I’d be bothered by this, I wasn’t here. There was more to the book than just this mystery, so you could easily forgive it.
What I couldn’t forgive and what took me slightly out of the book, was just one character. Pia.
Now, like I said before, Grant brought flavour and substance to her world and the characters are no different. Each one felt real and had an air of mystery and old country charm to them. And Pia isn’t really any different. She wasn’t a bad character by any means; it’s just that she never felt like a ten year old. I had to constantly remind myself that she’s just a kid, because she sounded older. I don’t mean that she was mature. She wasn’t. She did act like a kid and have kid qualities, especially her dislike at being paired with Stefan for everything.
It’s just that, when I was reading the book I kept picturing someone who was eighteen+ instead of someone who is just ten.
Considering the novel is told in first person from Pia’s point of view, it was hard trying to get over this and I don’t think I ever did. Despite this, I still really enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to read more from Grant in the future!
Would I recommend this? Absolutely! Read it! Read it NOW!