The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Posted June 21, 2017 by Minx

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Release Date: July 4, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Pages: 400
ISBN: 0544879368
Purchase at: Amazon Barnes & Noble Google Play Kobo Books-A-Million
Minx's Rating:

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home--and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together--scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream--vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible--and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone's secrets for long before it starts giving them up.


The Disappearances is a wondrous tale that is steeped in historical elements and a delight to the imagination. The writing is well crafted, eloquent and rich with details. The characters are developed, unique and memorable. This is a young adult novel and it has the strong emotional pulls that would resonate with that audience. It also has whimsy that would appeal to all readers.

This story is set in the world war two era and Alia Quinn’s family has been through a great emotional upheaval after the death of her mother. Alia and her brother have to be separated from their father for a time, so they are taken in by a longtime friend of their mother. They must leave everything they know and move to a town known as Sterling. I loved how the house they originally resided in was playfully called “the tilt.” The thought of them leaving it made me feel homesick for them.

Sterling and its residents are most peculiar. Once Alia arrives there she begins to notice strange things or rather notices the lack of things. Most of the residents seem suspicious or downright hostile to their presence. Apparently Alia’s mother has a history in this town and the story behind that is at first convoluted at best. What I can tell you without giving too much away is that something happened in this town and the cause for their current predicament is unknown. The residents to refer to the symptoms as the disappearances. It started with the residents of Sterling losing their sense of smell and every seven years since they have continued to lose an ability that they had previously taken for granted. It has also spread to two other towns.

There is definitely a creep out factor with the disappearances. Losing the ability to see your reflection would be a major one for me. Just imagine knowing you are there but not being able to see your reflection. Well that might appeal to vampire wannabe’s but for me, not so much. The idea of losing some component of my senses or abilities every seven years and not being able to escape the inevitable would drive me bonkers.

As the town is coming up to another seven-year anniversary things start to get pretty stressful. Especially for Alia as she learns more about her family’s history and connection to the disappearances. What caused the disappearances was a mystery that was not easily unraveled. That was just perfect. I love it when a mystery is truly something that you must use clues to come to certain conclusions in order to solve the puzzle.

The entire plot surrounding the loss of her mother and then finding out about all these secrets was haunting. You think you know someone only to find out that they had so many secrets, it twists your heart with the feeling of betrayal. Especially sad when it is your parent! Alia deals with this and more as she and her friends follow clues left behind in order to unravel the mystery of the disappearances.

What a lovely read! My only issue with this story was that I did feel that at times the pace slowed down. I prefer a story that sucks me in from the start and does not let go. I know for some this story did that, I had a different experience. Although I do believe that this story is going to be one that people are going to be talking about for years to come. I just can’t believe that this is a debut novel! I highly recommend this story to lovers of magical realism and historical fiction. You will be entertained!

*Thank you to NetGalley & HMH Books for Young Readers for this eARC of The Disappearances*

About Emily Bain Murphy

Author Emily Bain Murphy

Emily Bain Murphy grew up in Indiana, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and has also called Massachusetts and Connecticut home.

She loves books, Japanese karaoke, exploring new cities, and anything with Nutella. Her debut YA fantasy, THE DISAPPEARANCES, will be published by HMH Books for Young Readers and Pushkin Press in 2017.

Murphy is represented by Peter Knapp at Park Literary & Media.

She currently lives in San Francisco with her family and is at work on her second novel.

Photo: © Black Pixel Studio

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