The Disappearances Emily Bain Murphy
Fiction Book Reviews

YA Fantasy | The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

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WOW!  The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy swept me off my feet and deposited me in a world I wanted to live in.  This is easily (by far) my favourite read of 2017…

The Disappearances Emily Bain Murphy

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books (27 July 2017)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1782691499

ISBN-13: 978-1782691495

Every seven years something disappears in the remote town of Sterling: people’s reflections, the stars in the sky, the ability to dream. Aila realises that her mother may be to blame for the curse. But some mysteries are buried very deep and some secrets want to stay hidden – and one young woman’s desire to uncover the truth may not be enough to save Sterling from the past.

A beautifully told story of love, loss and finding the truth – no matter how difficult that may be.


Moving towards an uncertain future, Aila and brother Miles say goodbye to Gardner, Conneticut to make a temporary home with the Cliffton family in Sterling.  It’s not long before Aila realises that something isn’t right.

33yo Stefan was going to jump in front of a train, that is until he knocks on Phineas Shaw’s door and takes up a responsibility that will hopefully lead to peace and self-acceptance.

These two narrations tell an unfolding story of secrets and a quest that is so unique.  I can’t put into words the effect this world has had on me.

The Disappearances started in 1907 when their mum was born but she’s not the only one in the running for the Catalyst.  This community finds a way around some of them with the invention of Variants although there are strict rules to the use of them (and as you can imagine there is also a darker side).  One of my favourite scenes is Aila at the Variant market with Will.  There was so much tension leading up to the Harvest Fair and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what would be lost next.  Inspired!  This added so much to the story and I could just imagine the impact it had in some homes.

I haven’t mentioned the quest itself (no spoilers!) but I’m wondering if YA readers will be intrigued by William Shakespeare after reading The Disappearances.

As well as the quest you have teens doing their thing.  Friendships and romance and conflict.  The lake scene had my heart pounding as much as Aila’s! I loved Beas and George and even though I felt as if I shouldn’t have liked Eliza, I thought she was cool too 🙂

When it’s time for the big reveal I had no idea!  I knew there was a connection but not how.  I was totally misled into thinking something else entirely.

Emily Bain Murphy’s writing was so visual for me.

“My heart takes off in a spray of paper wings.” page 299

One of my favourite quotes (which fortunately was already on the author’s website):

The Disappearances Emily Bain Murphy

Near the end of the story, it’s obvious how far Aila has come when she says:

“I want to tell him that it’s all right to sleep.  That broken hearts are heavy.  That before you learn the weight of grief, even the simple act of living feels impossible.  But we do learn it, eventually.”

The Disappearances is a book of opposites.  Light and dark, strength and weakness, love and hate, life and death, myself and others. I felt such sadness that it had ended.  My first bookhangover for a long time!

(I would love to see this story adapted to either a movie or TV series.  It would be amazing!)

Connect with Emily Bain Murphy

Twitter @EBain



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I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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