Julia Vanishes Features Great Writing Marred by Average Storytelling

Julia Vanishes Catherine Egan

I picked up an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan at C2E2 earlier this year because, while I don’t usually read YA, this novel sounded intriguing. I just wish that in the end the blurb on the back hadn’t turned out to be quite so misleading.

WARNING: This review contains some minor spoilers about one minor plot point and one specific plot event in Julia Vanishes. Please note that I went out of my way to not include anything that will sufficiently spoil the story for anyone interested in reading this novel.

In Julia Vanishes…

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.

She’s being paid very well to infiltrate the grand house of Mrs. Och and report back on the odd characters who live there and the suspicious dealing that take place behind locked doors.

But what Julia uncovers shakes her to the core. She certainly never imagined that the traitor in the house would turn out to be…her.

Granted, a lot of Julia Vanishes was pretty darn good, though there were certain parts that I’m still not sure belong even in a YA novel. Imagining my middle school or even high school self reading this feels a bit off to me, but then, I did grow up in a different era and I suppose that these days “young adults” know a lot more about adult-ish things than I did back in the 90s.

To get back on track, I guess the easiest thing for me to say is that I found Julia Vanishes to be a slightly-better-than-average read. For the most part the writing was good, but certain plot points left a lot to be desired. For instance, while I quickly understood that the locations were based on ones that actually exist, the author didn’t reveal that the book was taking place on Earth until about a third of the way through. Prior to that, I thought it was just an Earth-inspired fantasy realm, so the revelation was more than a little bit jarring.

And speaking of jarring, this book does need a trigger warning. Sorry not sorry for the spoiler, but in my opinion the attempted sexual assault that Julia experienced was completely unnecessary both for her character and the plot as a whole. It was probably one of the biggest turnoffs in the entire book for me.

Julia Vanishes answered a few of the mysteries that happened throughout the novel, but left a lot of open questions, too. The author definitely did a good job of setting up her Witch’s Child trilogy, and I’m hopeful that with some tighter storytelling the next installments will make up for some of what the first one lacked.

Julia Vanishes is a Knopf/Random House Teens book that will be released on June 7th, 2016. You can pre-order it on Amazon now.

Author: Tara Lynne

Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.

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