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The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen…

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

by Helen Grant

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Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
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 |
I am not normally a YA reader but when this was offered as a choice for my monthly bookclub read I thought I'd give it a go to see what all the fuss over YA is about. I might be missing out on some great reading after all.

As opening lines go “My life might have been so different if I had not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded” was pretty damned good at drawing me in. The story which follows is narrated by Pia Kolvenbach, who at 18(I think) is telling of events that took place when she was 10-11 years old (a neat way of getting around the fact her narration contains the occasional word or concept that a 10-year old is unlikely to express). She lives in the small German town of Bad Münstereifel with her German father and English mother. It is the sort of town where everyone knows everyone else and so it seems unthinkable that a child could disappear. Therefore when fourth- grader Katharina Linden vanishes one Sunday, the parents and authorities of Bad Münstereifel start to worry. When a second child goes missing a few weeks later real panic sets in.

After her grandmother exploded Pia became something of an outcast with only one friend, Stefan, who is a fellow outcast for reasons that I must have missed (he is called StinkStefan several times so maybe he smells bad). The two embark on a rather leisurely ‘investigation’ into the disappearances which mainly involves visiting one of the town’s elderly residents and listening to his stories about the town’s history, usually a mixture of fact and legend with a healthy smattering of ghosts and demons thrown in for the children’s amusement and/or moral edification.

I enjoyed the gentle humour of the book, such as when Pia is doing a school project on ‘where she comes from’ and when she gets to the bit about what products that place is known for she asks her mother what Middlesex has a lot of to which the reply is ‘roads’. I enjoyed the character of Pia too, she is a likable and thoughtful kid whose tribulations are realistically depicted. At one point someone in the town is ‘identified’ (through rumour and innuendo) as the person responsible for the missing children and a mob mentality takes over most of the adults. Depicting this from a child’s perspective, who takes the words they hear more literally than an adult would, is both realistic and thought-provoking.

Overall though I am a bit ho-hum about the book which stems, I guess, from the fact I still don’t really ‘get’ the allure of YA for adults. I was mildly entertained by the book but thought it a bit slow and I spent a lot of time wondering what the adults where thinking and doing while Pia and Stefan bumbled around. I simply cannot imagine making a habit out of reading this kind of thing, it's just not my cup of tea. ( )
1 vote bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (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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