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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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After Pia's grandmother dies in a freak accident, Pia becomes the town pariah, followed by rumor and gossip. The only person willing to be seen with her is another outcast, StinkyStefan, who she begrudgingly becomes friends with. When a young girl in town disappears, Pia is convinced that there are supernatural elements behind the mysterious vanishing, and Pia and Stefan are plunged into the mystery.

Many of the reviews refer to this as a modern fairy tale, and rightfully so - but it is definitely one of the grimmer ones, the kind that never made it to Disney. The juxtaposition of fairy tale and real life danger creates a truly creepy atmosphere, and Grant's writing is impeccable. Toward the end, my heart was thumping with terrified anticipation and I was flying through the pages, eager to find out what happened.

Pia and Stefan are surprisingly well-written; most books do grave disservice to children by making them unbearably stupid or far more clever than they should be. Pia and Stefan are clearly children, old enough to be aware when something is not being said, but not old enough to guess what. I never cringed, thinking, "Oh, they're going to do something stupid...", which is more than I can say for a lot of books.

If I had one quibble, it's that the person behind the disappearances was fairly obvious. There was really only two people it could be and any reader even faintly genre-savvy could pinpoint who it was immediately. That said, it's a credit to Grant that in a book that is in large part a mystery, knowing the identity of the culprit did not in any way detract from my enjoyment of what was a superbly written, perfectly paced, and thoroughly creepy book. ( )
  kittyjay | Apr 23, 2015 |
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant is an apparent YA mystery story about young girls disappearing from a seemingly idyllic German village. In fact, I found this book actually was telling quite a different story. Although the main characters, 10 year old Pia and her friend, Stefan decide to investigate these disappearances, they are really more of a backdrop. These two children are rather isolated as both have become outcasts from their friends and only have each other as company. The book is also interwoven with fairy stories that enhance the villages’ past and soften the actual horror of the disappearances.

I loved the writing style of this book, although there really was no mystery as to who was responsible for the disappearances. Narrating the story as an adult, Pia was a reliable narrator and I thought the children’s thoughts and actions were fairly realistic. This isn’t a clever mystery with twists to surprise the reader, really it is a story about 10 year old Pia and her difficult year as her parents’ marriage is in trouble, she is shunned by her friends and there is the fear of these disappearances constantly hovering in the background.

Although I picked up The Vanishing of Katharina Linden thinking I was going to be reading a mystery, this book was a very good read that drew me into the life of a small German village and its residents. I would certainly pick up another book by this author. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Apr 3, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 86 (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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