The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

The Disappearances is Magical Realism at its best! Part historical and part mystery with a dash of magic, Murphy's debut novel is a whimsical treat with a side of sinister that worked so well together.

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy Book Cover


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
by Emily Bain Murphy
Sale Date: July 4, 2017
Young Adult Fiction / Magical Realism
HMH Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 400 pages



The writing and setting work perfectly together. The setting of Sterling (during the 1940's in New England) has a wonderful small town feel to it complete with lively characters you could easily imagine: quirky, nosy, some obnoxious and others endearing. The atmosphere, touches of magic and writing create this enchanting pocket in time where you're invested in the people and mystery of Sterling.

The magic is unique and unlike anything, I've read. What makes this story so fascinating and compelling is the secrets the town is hiding. Every seven years, the people of Sterling lose something valuable ... their sense of smell, then their reflections, even the stars but no one knows why these "Disappearances" happen. Seen through the eyes of an outsider like Aila, who is also now experiencing these disappearances for the first time, I couldn't help but be saddened. Imagine not being able to smell flowers, chocolate or even the food you eat! 

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

I really enjoyed Aila's spunky persona and her determination to solve the mystery behind the disappearances. Her brother Miles is mischievous and adorably cute. I loved seeing the big sister, little brother relationship between these two and thought it was very heartwarming. Realistic mistakes and misunderstandings made them relatable and believable.

There are numerous references to Shakespearean literature, clues left by Aila's mother, Juliet, that she uses to try and solve the mystery. I thought they added an interesting twist to the story and the clues really kept me guessing.

There is a slow blooming romance that works really well and it was so nice to see it unfold slowly ... adorable and realistic. The scene where Aila received a gift from a certain someone was simple swoony to me.

Know that wherever I am, it is always farther than I wish to be from you, and that you are never beyond the reach of my thoughts.

What I Did Not Care For

Honestly, the villain of the story. The perspective was definitely sinister and strange, giving the story a chilling edge, but I just could never imagine Juliet's connection to them. The unfolding mystery was not affected by this at all, just not one of my favorite villains nor one that really stood out. 

THE DISAPPEARANCES ended up being a terrific read for me. I highly recommended, especially to those who enjoy mysteries or magical realism. The Shakspearian references also make it a great choice for literary enthusiasts. 


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