By Catherine Egan
Series: Witch's Child #1
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (June 7, 2016)
Grade Range: 8 up
Julia has the unusual ability to be . . . unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people's senses.
It's a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it's a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned--crime pays.
Her latest job is paying very well indeed. Julia is posing as a housemaid in the grand house of Mrs. Och, where an odd assortment of characters live and work: A disgraced professor who sends her to fetch parcels containing bullets, spiders, and poison. An aristocratic houseguest who is locked in the basement each night. And a mysterious young woman who is clearly in hiding--though from what or whom?
Worse, Julia suspects that there's a connection between these people and the killer leaving a trail of bodies across the frozen city.
The more she learns, the more she wants to be done with this unnatural job. To go back to the safety of her friends and fellow thieves. But Julia is entangled in a struggle between forces more powerful than she'd ever imagined. Escape will come at a terrible price.
I was so excited to read Julia Vanishes as the blurb makes it sound like a mysterious fantasy. How awesome is that?! Sadly, that is not what I read when I made my way through this book.
When we meet our MC, Julia, she is a young adult and already knows that she is a witch. Ever since she was a child, she knew that she had the ability to vanish without a trace. Mind you, she is not really invisible, she mearly blends in to her surroundings and other people cannot see her. Julia lives in a time when all forms of magic are illegal and anyone being accused of being a witch is burned alive or drowned. Julia has found solice working for Mrs. Och, a lady who has an odd assortment of people living in her home. Julia finds herself digging up information on who all of these house guests are... you see, Julia is a spy posing as a housemaid. It is a dangerous job but one that pays well and Julia knows no fear. The more Julia finds out about these houseguests, the more she wants to be done with them and on to other things. She also has been looking into the killings that are happening throughout her city and fears a serial killer may be on the loose. Unfortunately, that is percisely when she finds herself in deeper than she ever imagined and the cost to escape will be at a horrible price.
This is the first book in the Witch's Child trilogy and it did not start off well in my eyes. The story is so painfully slow. So slow that your brain starts to think of other things and you forget that you are supposed to be reading a story. All of the people, places, and things the author took great pains to describe were not entirely necessary. I understand this is based in the gaslight era, but taking the time to describe the sidewalks and the fashion of nearly everyone walking was overkill. Instead, I wanted to know more about the witches powers, where they came from, how could they be developed, and more.
I did not ever find myself connecting with any character. I didn't fancy any of them. They felt dry and flat. Julia was not relatable to me as she came across overly self-assured and cocky. Plus she was too nosey for her own good. She felt she needed to know every single thing about every single person regardless if she was asked to look into them or not.
I felt there were just too many elements introduced as the story went on. This is supposed to be a the first novel in a new series and too much was happening at once. The author should have picked one solid concept to start with and branched out from there. Instead, every possible topic was thrown into this one book: unusual creatures, witches, strange house guests, mysteries, secret books, possibly murdering beasts.
Overall, this book just did not work for me. I was never fully invested in what was going on. I did not feel anything for the characters or the story line. It all felt forced and I that made me care even less. I gave this book a 2 star rating because reasons stated above. I was going to give a 2.5 but as I wrote this review, I remembered how frustrating this book made me so I dropped the rating. I know I will be a black sheep with this book but I'm okay with that because I have been on a lot of other books lately.