The Disappearance by Emily Bain Murphy (A YA Book Review)


The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Wow! This book is not like anything I’ve ever read! It’s a bit historical fiction, a bit mystery, and a bit magical realism…and I loved it! I’ll try and write this review without giving away much of the plot, as it’s all intricately woven together.

Alia Cummings Quinn is sent to live in Sterling, after the unexpected death of her mother and WWII draft of her father. Along with her brother, Miles, they are taken in by her mother’s childhood friends (now married) the Cliftons. But Sterling is not fond of the new additions, namely because they’re pretty sure that Juliet Cummings Quinn was a catalyst for what is known as The Disappearances (every 7 years something disappears from reflections to stars to dreams), while also being the only person to escape them.

For the first 1/3 of the book it was good, but I was a little confused. There are periodic italicized chapters told in another POV and the story is unraveling backwards somewhat due to the mystery. And if I’m being honest, at first I was thinking this book was just okay. But then things started to click and I was thinking about the book after I was done reading, and replaying scenes in my head.

The mystery deepened and I definitely didn’t see what was coming—at least not in the way it unfolded. Shakespeare’s works are woven throughout and he is not only Alia’s connection to her mother, but an integral part to The Disappearances. Alia was a reliable narrator, and although she seemed younger than 16-17 years old at times, I figure it was appropriate for the 1940s time period. I also loved the slow-simmer romance and how it finally came together. I even got a little teary-eyed. The secondary characters are also very strong and well-rounded, one of my favorites being Beas, but George provided much needed comedic relief while also being extremely intelligent.

For me, this book falls into the same categories as The Night Circus, A Million Junes, The Love That Split the World, and even The Raven Cycle…a group of friends looking to solve a mystery with elements of magic. I very much enjoyed it and long after reading it, the story has stuck with me. 4.75 bumped to 5 stars.

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