Not since The Elegance of the Hedgehog has a book arrived in America from Europe on such wings of critical praise and popularity. The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is an unforgettable debut - at once chilling and endearing, haunting and richly insightful - the story of one girl’s big heart and even bigger imagination, and of a world full of mystery, good, and evil.
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 Katharina Linden. Katharina was last seen on a float in a parade, 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.
Marvelously morbid, stunningly suspenseful, and exceptionally winning, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is a new coming-of-age classic, and the most accomplished fiction debut in years.
©2010 Helen Grant (P)2010 Random House Audio
"Both a wonderful first novel, and a strange, haunting modern fairytale, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is that rare beast: a book that reawakens in adults the childhood terror of the bogeyman, and confirms for children that the world is an infinitely stranger place than adults might like to pretend...." (John Connolly, author of The Reapers)
"The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is a stunning debut with a richly evoked setting, a smart sympathetic heroine, and the best opening line for a novel I've ever read. Helen Grant conjures a tale of evil in rural Germany that would make the Brothers Grimm jealous!' (Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series)
"Dark and deadly as the original Grimm’s German folktales, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden hides its menace behind the exquisitely charming narrator, Pia, an unforgettable child of the first order." (Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child and Angels of Destruction)
I mainly read mysteries, and sci-fi, sometimes with a dose of humor, and I love the BBC. I enjoy the hidden gems more than the best-sellers.
First, I missed out on this book when it was first released because Audible mistakenly has it in the SciFi/Fantasy category. It is a mystery. There are NO supernatural elements in this story at all. It does have some feel of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale, but it is NOT SciFi or Fantasy. This novel is actually difficult to categorize because it is equal parts charming and chilling, but since it involves solving the mystery of missing children in the town, Mystery is the most appropriate category.
I have over 400 audiobooks, and this book easily makes my top 5. Although the main character Pia is young, this is not a children’s novel; however, older children not easily frightened might enjoy it. It has a strong element of mystery and suspense with the missing girls, but that is not necessarily the most significant aspect of the book. While the setting of the book is modern, the village of Bad Münstereifel has a definite touch of the Grimm brothers’ Germany, giving the entire story a bit of the feel of a fairy tale. Adding to this setting are the stories told to Pia by her neighbor. Each of these tales of Unshakable Hans would make a nice story on its own. The background for all of the more unusual occurrences is the story of Pia’s family. Seeing the whole story through Pia's eyes puts the finishing touch on this story.
Adding to this wonderful novel is the narration by Justine Eyre. I almost bought this book in paper, but thought this would be a particularly nice book to have read to me. I am so glad that I made that call. Eyre’s narration is absolutely flawless. Each character is distinct, and her unique voice is perfectly fitted to this book.
If you only get one audiobook this year, I’d recommend The Vanishing of Katherina Linden. If you’re out of credits, I recommend this as a cash-worthy purchase.
Although, one can guess the bad guy about halfway through, the author keeps many details to himself as the story progresses. The way in which the murders were carried out, the clues that were obvious, but that just didn't fit, and most glaringly: the why of it, are some of those details that kept me listening. While someone is listening to an audiobook, they are often doing something else at the same time. As such a person, I almost missed the last line that the old man says as he leaves the main characters house in the end. It gave me shivers. I thought I was so clever for figuring out who the killer was early on. I should have known from the very beginning!
This book is excellently written, cleverly plotted, richly peopled with detailed characters and just twisted enough to keep you slightly confused, but not frustrated.
I enjoyed the narration. Justine Eyre did an excellent job with the German pronunciation and with voicing the characters. The story was interesting up to a point, but it dragged out a bit and the ending felt too pat and a bit rushed.
I would listen to her again. This was the first time I heard her narration.
It was a quick listen in spite of the slow parts
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