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The vanishing of Katharina Linden : a novel
Helen Grant
Adult Fiction GRANT

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From Publishers' Weekly:

It may seem strange to describe Grant's debut as a charming horror novel, but there's a determined amiableness about the narrative that will appeal to readers who wouldn't typically be drawn to such subject matter. It's December 1998, and 10-year-old Pia Kolvenbach and her family are living happily in the quaint German town where her father grew up, until Pia's grandmother accidentally sets herself on fire and burns to death. A rumor erupts that her grandmother exploded, and, overnight, Pia becomes an outcast. Her only friend from then on is the most unpopular boy in her class, nicknamed StinkStefan. The two of them begin visiting an elderly man who entertains them with ghost stories from local folklore that Pia and StinkStefan hope might help them solve the decades-old mystery of a number of local girls who have gone missing. The story's richness isn't as much in the mystery plot as it is in the finely rendered background, where desperate parents strive to protect their children in an uncertain world, though the simplicity of the narration makes the novel feel lighter than probably intended. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

After an unfortunate incident during family Advent dinner in 1998, ten-year-old Pia Kolvenbach becomes known in her German hometown of Bad Munstereifel as "The Girl Whose Grandmother Exploded." Pia, whose mother is one of only three British citizens in the area, is already familiar with the peculiarities of this insular town, but the ostracism she now faces leaves her with only two confidantes: StinkStefan, a classmate and fellow outcast, and grouchy, secretive Herr Schiller, a source of town lore. Attention soon shifts from Pia when a local girl, Katharina Linden, becomes neither the first nor the last girl to go missing. Pia and Stefan, inspired (haunted?) by Herr Schiller's gruesome stories, become determined to investigate the disappearances. Pia is an effective and sympathetic narrator as we learn the town's dark secrets. First novelist Grant, herself a former British resident of Bad Munstereifel, already has a second novel, The Glass Demon, scheduled for publication in 2011. Verdict A meeting of Harriet the Spy and The Lovely Bones with a dash of Grimm thrown in, this is an engaging mystery and a tender story of children caught in some very adult circumstances. YAs may be drawn to the spookier fantasy elements.-Jenn B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll.-Northeast, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Pia
Girl
Age: 10
Grandmother died in a freak accident; classmates shun her; one of her classmates goes missing; believes the girl was taken away by the supernatural.
Student



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