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The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen…
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The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

by Helen Grant

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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!

You can also find this at my blog: Booking Rehab ( )
  pdbkwm | Sep 8, 2014 |
Update: I finished reading it tonight and I loved it. I spent all my free time for the past two days reading because, like Pia, once I got started, I couldn't stop until I found the truth.

I won a copy of this book through First Reads. It sounds eerie and enthralling. I love a good mystery, especially one with a few twists. ( )
  Athenable | Jan 10, 2014 |
I enjoyed it, but it ended a little too abruptly for my taste. ( )
  liz.mabry | Sep 11, 2013 |
I finished listening to my commute book The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant. This is a mystery told from ten year old Pia's point-of-view. She is much different than Flavia DeLuce. I think much nicer, less imperious, and more affected by real life. The book is set in a small German town and between and because of some mysterious disappearances that have all the hallmarks of a serial killer on the loose, Pia becomes friends with an elderly gentleman who regales her with old folktales from the region. These folktales are spell binding and are highlights of the book. The way this author has weaved them into the story is masterful. More than once I have had "driveway moments" while listening to the old stories in this novel. This is going to be on my best reads of the year list. The recorded version is very well done with a narrator who strikes the right balance between emotion and narration. If you need something to occupy your mind get this one. ( )
  benitastrnad | Apr 28, 2013 |
This is one cool refreshing read! The exquisite narrative immediately makes you feel you are a part of the people living in the town of Bad Münstereifel in Germany. It is in this town that we meet Pia and Stefan, two 10 year olds that find themselves in the midst of some obscure happenings in town. First, Katharina Linden disappears. Out of the blue. Just like that. Everyone thinks it's an isolated incident till another girl goes missing. The kids get their imaginations fueled by the stories told to them by Herr Schiller, a friendly neighbor, and embark on an investigation all of their own. I loved the quirkiness of it all: the characters, the fairy tales, the small town mentality... and also the scary-real part of it all, that nightmare that us parents don't ever want to face: the disappearance of a child. Only part I can critique is the fact that some words and expressions are written in German, and although you can infer the meaning of most, you still have to look up some in the back glossary and I found that broke the rythm of the story for me a bit. I contacted the author about this and she kindly replied back saying that her other novels don't have as many German words in them. I found it lovely that she took the time to read my comment and reply back, as I plan to read all of her other books as well. Great read! ( )
  AleAleta | Apr 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
A single encounter with this remarkable novel is all that is needed for us to perform this juggling of perspective. Is the folkloric world of 10-year-old Pia's imagination – with its Brothers Grimm-style perceptions – the best way to approach the disappearance of Pia's friend Katharina, rather than more prosaic solutions? We are allowed – invited, even – to change our mind constantly about the protagonist....

 
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My life might have been so different, had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded.
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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 Katharine Linden. Katharina was last seen on a parade float, 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.

Stunningly suspenseful, marvelously morbid, and exceptionally winning, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is a coming-of-age classic, and the most accomplished fiction debut in years.

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Reviled in her German village home where her only friends are a fellow outcast and an elderly storyteller, eleven-year-old Pia investigates the disappearances of three local girls whom she believes are tied to unsolved missing persons cases from decades earlier.… (more)

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