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.