The Disappearances is one of these books that surprised me, right from the beginning. In a very good way. Atmospheric, mysterious, with great and well-shaped characters, it definitely was such a promising debut – in fact, I was surprised it was a debut at all.
MYSTERIOUS SMALL-TOWN VIBES
“But really, aren’t there bits of magic everywhere we look?’ Dr. Clifton continues. ‘We’ve just stopped seeing it that way.”
As second-world-war is raging in Europe and their father is called off to fight, Aila and her younger brother, Miles are forced to move in the strange, small town of Sterling, where their deceased mother used to live. What they don’t know, but quickly will discover, is that Sterling is a place where things slowly disappear, one by one, every seven years. First, it was the ability to scent. Then, the ability to see your reflection in the mirror. And so on. As the next disappearance is right around the corner, the atmosphere tighten, and Aila and Miles, strangers in the small rural town, aren’t necessarily welcome, nor seen in a good eye by their peers.
There is something about The Disappearances that caught me right from the start: the atmosphere. It was quite unique and, from the first couple of pages, it swallowed me whole. The mysterious small-town vibe, the mystery surrounding it, people and secrets, small talks and things people don’t say… Everything is built off in such an intriguing way, I could not help wanting to know more about it all. I wanted to hear all of the secrets, while at the same time having chills because everything was so, strange and almost magical.
INTERESTING CHARACTERS AND FAMILY/ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
Despite this story being about the whole disappearances mystery and what’s behind it all ; the characters had obviously a great place in all of it. I was pleasantly surprised as well by how much I turned out to like the main character, Aila. If, at first, it took me a little while to get accustomed to her, I enjoyed both her qualities and faults, making her a three-dimensional and very real character. She made mistakes, she was jealous, too curious, judged people wrong at first, but it all made it feel more real. I especially appreciated how, despite appearances at first, she turned out to be a strong, fierce and determined character.
Aila and Miles’ relationship is also one I rooted for, from the beginning. Like any siblings’ relationship, it does not come easily, it is filled with incomprehension and moments where I just wanted to shake them and scream “you are stupid!” or something ; but in the end it was very, very realistic. I appreciated the evolution of the relationship as the story went on, the betrayal and forgiveness, the way they get closer and farther away again. It was an interesting relationship to follow for sure.
Obviously, there is a romantic relationship in this story as well – let’s be honest, you saw this coming, didn’t you? I was glad to hear it did not feel like insta-love at all. Instead, I got to discover two characters as they slowly grew fond of each other, denied the feelings, were friends and everything else before. I loved how this relationship developed at first and really found myself rooting for them.
A COMPELLING WRITING-STYLE
.Great characters and a mysterious setting, The Disappearances was such a pleasant surprise. If I’m not going to spoil anything here and leave the big mystery for you to read and discover, I really want to take time to evoke the author’s writing style. I said before that this story did not feel like a debut, I think the writing style was one of the reasons why. Emily Bain Murphy’s writing is compelling, right from the beginning. It’s a bit lyrical but not too much, it’s quite simple yet it manages to draw you in, conveying emotions in a simple yet realistic way, managing to drag you into the story very quickly.
If, at times, the plot – mainly when it came to relationships – was a bit predictable, in other times – mostly when it came to the mysteries -, the story surprised me in so many ways by the twists and turns it took.
Overall, The Disappearances was such a lovely discovery. With its mysterious, compelling atmosphere and interesting characters, it’s surely a book I would recommend. It’s classified as Fantasy on Goodreads, though I would tend to say it’s more like magical realism – in the vibe of The Bone Gap or something, with the small-town mysterious city and magical things happening, drawing you in and not letting you go.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, affect my opinion on it.
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Emily Bain Murphy, The Disappearances, Published by HMH books for young readers, July 4th2017.
What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?
Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.
Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.
No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.
As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.