Title: The Disappearances
Author: Emily Bain Murphy
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book through my local library and reviewed it.
The Disappearances was the next book in my library stack, and I wanted to be able to read it before I had to return it. I found it the way I find most of my library books; it was recommended to me on one of the sites that I follow. But what initially drew me in, even more than the intriguing synopsis, was the cover, haunting and creepy and compelling all at once. I started the book not quite sure what to expect; this debut novel was kind of like a mashup of Stephen King, with more than a healthy dose of magical realism, with romantic and supernatural elements sprinkled throughout. Add to this formula gorgeous prose, a creepy, gothic setting, breakneck pacing, and secrets and twists and turns, and you'll have something close to The Disappearances.
Aila and her younger brother, Miles, are being shipped off to the tiny town of Sterling after their father goes to fight in the war. Simmering with resentment and grief after the mysterious death of her mother, she begins to realize that everything in Sterling isn't quite what it seems. Ostracized by the townspeople and confused by her feelings for her house mother's son, she decides to dig deep into Sterling's past. But someone out there doesn't want their secrets unearthed, and Aila and her friends are on a race against the clock to set things right....
I really liked this book! The prose was so gorgeous, and I was sucked in immediately. The pacing was breakneck, and I'm not gonna lie, there were times when I got really upset, when I had to set the book down. There were times when I was obsessing, even when I wasn't reading it. But more than that, I loved Sterling, and the creepy, Stephen King vibes that I was getting from it, as well as its people. One of the most intriguing parts of this book was the mystery that the town held. But I also really adored the characters, especially Aila, Miles, George, and William. Aila was an awesome heroine, feminist and fierce and flawed. I also really enjoyed the way Murphy deftly blended genres: historical fiction, magical realism, and romance. One of the best parts of the book was Aila and her friends working their hardest to unravel the mystery of Sterling and how the town (and the surrounding towns) became cursed. And the villains in this novel! Some of the best I've ever seen. This book was a fun, twisty mystery that emphasizes the themes of family and first love. At times, though, it was kind of difficult to keep up, because of the unusual format, but it wasn't too terrible! The bottom line: A deliciously creepy, gothic mystery with plenty of twists, turns, and shocking secrets, The Disappearances was a wonderful debut! I look forward to more from Emily Bain Murphy! Next on deck: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody!