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The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

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3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,819 ratings  ·  444 reviews
It isn’t ten-year-old Pia’s fault that her grandmother dies in a freak accident. But tell that to the citizens of Pia’s little German hometown of Bad Münstereifel, or to the classmates who shun her. The only one who still wants to be her friend is StinkStefan, the most unpopular child in school.

But then something else captures the community’s attention: the vanishing of Ka...more
Hardcover, 281 pages
Published August 10th 2010 by Delacorte Press (first published April 1st 2009)
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Room by Emma DonoghueThe Lock Artist by Steve HamiltonThe Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen GrantThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee BenderThe Radleys by Matt Haig
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Community Reviews

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faeriemyst
One word to describe The Vanishing of Katharina Linden : Engrossing.

My interest in this book was piqued when I saw it described as a "charming horror novel," and while that isn't totally accurate, charming it is, horror it isn't, I very much enjoyed the book. Helen Grant has such an ease about her writing that I find it hard to believe this is her first novel. Her descriptions of Bad Münstereifel and its inhabitants are key to the book and provided most of the atmosphere; I could quite easily vi...more
Alana
With all the hype surrounding the US publication of The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, I was eagerly anticipating Helen Grant's debut. Sadly, the marketing copywriters are doing better work than the actual author and once halfway through the book, I found myself impatiently waiting for the completion of a book that was decently written but poorly conceived. The publisher would do well to stop likening it to other works because not a single comparison pans out... particularly the idea that the na...more
Felice
I have been wondering. Wondering why it sometimes happens that a novel will be published here as an adult novel and elsewhere as a young adult (YA for readers anywhere from 12 to 16 years old)) novel. The first time I noticed that was when the bookThe Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time came out. Here in the U.S. it was published as an adult novel and in the U.K. and Australia it was initially published as an YA novel. After it's well deserved huge success it was repacked in all 3 coun...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Jun 28, 2012 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shannon (Giraffe Days) by: Alexandra
Ten-year-old Pia Kolvenbach is known at school as the girl whose grandmother blew up. Far from showing any sympathy to a girl whose Oma died on Christmas Day, Pia endures taunts and the sudden absence of her friends. The only person in her class brave enough to sit next to her (in case it's catching) is StinkStefan, himself the most unpopular boy. Pia becomes friends with him by dint of him following her around, and because there's no one else.

When Katharina Linden goes missing at Karneval - jus...more
Judith
Pia Kolvenbach is known as "the girl whose grandmother's head exploded" in a freak accident at the Advent Dinner table. Advent Candle met Aqua Net hairspray...the rest was "history", with which Pia has to live every day. When young girls start to disappear, Pia and her trusty sidekick, StinkStefan, are "on the case". Two pariahs, and the avuncular storyteller Herr Schiller, explore the history of their village, Bad Munstereifel, through folk tales and gossip. Eventually, the dark side of the tow...more
Emma
I usually listen to audiobooks only when I paint or when I do house chores. Well, I did not have enough house chores for this one, and as I could absolutely not wait to get more hours on the following days, I ended up listening to it sitting on my couch. I have NEVER done this before. This is enough to say this is a real page turner, you get the idea, even if that one was an audiobook.

A friend of mine asked why I liked it so much. It is actually hard to pinpoint, apart from the fabulous quality...more
Amy
This novel started out with a great premise and a lively narrator, a young girl who is ostracized for having the bad luck to have had her Grandmother blown up. Long story, and it was told with sympathy and wit. I really was enjoying the story, especially the naive and spunky voice of the protaganist, Pia.
The mystery begins with the disappearance of a young girl, Katherina, and then the story loses steam. It's almost as if too much is going on, and none of it terribly significant.
That said, my u...more
Terri
Had I known that this novel was originally released in the U.K. as YA level rather than adult, I would probably have passed on it. That would have been a mistake! I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of a curious and intelligent 10-year-old girl living in the Eifel region of Germany, who gets caught up in the investigation of several other young girls who have gone missing. Her first person narrative voice is witty (sometimes hilarious) and endearing enough to hold the interest of a more mature reader...more
Susan
3 1/2 stars. I love the first sentence of this book: “My life might have been so different, had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded.”

This mystery is told from the perspective of Pia, a 10-year old who lives in a small German town with her German father and English mother in the late 1990s. Children, specifically Katharina Linden, seem to go missing with no explanation. Suspicion falls on a creepy old guy but no one can prove anything.

Pia is ostracized because of her “explodin...more
Krystal
I picked up this book simply because of the cover design. Yes, yes, I know. Don't judge a book by its cover. But guess what. That's what I do 9 times out of 10. Sue me, I'm a designer. It's what I notice first, more often than not.

This is a great coming-of-age story about a young German girl (well, half-German, half-British) who lives in a town going through a bit of a crime spree. Which is to say, several missing children. Little girls, snatched up from underneath everybody's watchful eyes. Thi...more
Jmm
While Pia Kolvenbach did not wake up on December 20, 1998 as a giant cockroach, she begins her tale of social metamorphosis with the lament, “My life might have been so different, had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded.” With her Oma Kristel’s fiery exit at the family Christmas dinner, Pia’s existence as a normal 10-year-old in Bad Munstereifel, the quiet German town where she has spent her entire life, changes overnight. Returning to school after the Christmas break, Pia fi...more
Jackie
This book was more than I expected, and less than I hoped. I most likely would not have picked this book up based on the cover - somehow it isn't attractive to me. However, the book was recommended so I jumped in. It started well, dragged in the middle and grabbed my interest again at the end.

A few dislikes:

1. Even as a teenager recalling what happened 7 years ago, Pia did not ring true to me as a 10/11 year old. My immediate circle includes several children in that age bracket and Pia is just n...more
Juushika
The freak accident that kills her grandmother makes Pia a social pariah, but it isn't the only strange thing that happens in the German town of Bad Münstereifel. When a fellow student disappears without a trace, Pia and her only friend investigate local legends and figures to discover what may have become of her. The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is good but never quite good enough—promising as it is, it's missing something. Despite initial appearances (and cover flap), this isn't so much a fair...more
Jinky Spring
This started off with loads of promise and I'd previously received many good recommendations for this book from many critics. But like with The Glass Demon, I thought this story was going to involve the supernatural. Again I was sorely disappointed, because while there were mentions of ghost stories and mythical beings the general story wasn't about them. That really disappointed me.
And what was with that one section where Pia and these other two kids in England (Charles and Chloe I think) had t...more
Jade
First Line
'My life might have been so different had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded.'

The Plot
Pia, now a young adult, recounts the events that unfolded during a period in her childhood when female children started disappearing from her hometown in Germany. Running alongside the story of the vanishing girls is a turbulent year or so in Pia's childhood, dealing with the fallout from her grandmother's death, adjusting to big school, and not to mention her warring parents. I l...more
Hazel
PERFECT. PERFECT ENDING. I AM LOST FOR WORDS.

I LOVED this book.
Praxedes
I was initially drawn to this book by its marvelous cover! It wasn't until a friend recommended it that actually reading it became a possibility. This is a painfully slow detective story that really comes to life at the end. Taking place in a small German town, with two incredibly precocious ten-year-olds as lead characters, the book plods through the plot like molasses. Towards the finale it really picks up, and I took to the last forty pages like a Visigoth. I wish that tempo had carried on fr...more
Rebecca Ann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura
My life might have been so different if I had not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded!"
This is the first line in the book and the minute you read it, you know that this book is going to touch in so many ways. I have read more books than I can count, but never have I read a first line in a book which has gripped my attention so quickly.
The story is told through the eyes of 11 year old Pia. This fact alone, is intriguing as I had expected it to be told through the eyes of an adult,...more
Lisa
Jun 20, 2010 Lisa added it
Shelves: fiction
In the small, quiet German town of Bad Munstereifel, news and gossip travel fast. When young girls seemingly disappear, the town is abuzz with fear and excitement, ready to point fingers at the likely suspect. To ten-year-old Pia Kolvenbach, the vanishings seem to be right out of a fairy tale. Drawn to the stories and legends surrounding her hometown, Pia sets out to solve the case along with her friend Stefan.

Despite the title of the novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is largely the story...more
pdbkwm
When someone tells you that a certain author is someone to watch, I always feel a bit wary. I want to experience the same sort of love that they felt, but I always end up disappointed.

Which is why, I’m pleasantly surprised that I loved this book so much. Helen Grant really brought forth an amazing debut and I can’t wait to read more from her. If she continues writing excellent novels like this, then I agree with my fellow reader who says she is one to watch.

But enough about her, what about her b...more
Dianah
Jun 09, 2010 Dianah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dianah by: LTER
Shelves: literature, arc, favorites
Along the lines of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden has a smart, resourceful 10-year-old protagonist. Pia Kolvenbach is wise beyond her years, and brave and thoughtful besides.

Pia's cross to bear is the unceasing teasing she receives since her grandmother's accident involving massive amounts of hair spray and an open flame. This deadly combination does, indeed, result in her grandmother's death. Pia is amazed at the mirth and laughter her traumatic exper...more
Sarah
Haunting. That's the best word I can think of to describe Helen Grant's tale of a 10-year-old social pariah who's determined to solve the unsolvable mystery of young girls who vanish without a trace and become the hero of her quaint German town. For a book that I picked out primarily because of the fantastic cover art (graphic designer: can't help it!), I'd say it was a serendipitously good choice: loaded with folklore and magic -- and stark reality.

When I read a book whose main character is a c...more
Tatiana
"The Vanishing of Katharina Linden" is a truly unique book, a dark fairytale entwined with a chilling crime story. It's different from other crime stories, in that the heroine is a child and everything is seen through her eyes. Also in that folklore (German folklore to be exact)and legends (preferably grim ones) play a central role in it.
I found the story of "The Vanishing..." completely gripping. The realistic psychology of characters, the vivid and pittoresque portrayal of a typical small Germ...more
Blake Fraina
From Germany, home of Grimm's Fairy Tales and the creepy morality poems of Shockheaded Peter (Der Struwwelpeter), comes this eccentric novel that is equal parts Nancy Drew and Stephen King - with a little David Sedaris thrown in for good measure.

While Pia and Stink Stefan, the protagonists of this mystery, are a plucky tween investigator and her trusty sidekick/schoolmate, it is by no means a YA book. As a matter of fact, despite its breezy, and often humorous, style, the story has some seriou...more
Tara
This was a really hard book for me to rate. Sometimes as I read it I was a bit frustrated with the town and its repetativeness (I got it, the town cannot get over the fact that your grandma died in a horrific accident, and the townspeople are horrible gossips), but then I would read a little bit more and then Herr Schiller would tell a story and I was entranced again.
When it comes to the mystery, this book was a nice surprise. It's clues were revealed through subtle stories and were nicely tied...more
Reanapatel
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, Fantasy Fiction.

After her grandmother died in an unusual way, Pia Kolvenbach is always being talked about and stared at, she was the centre of attention in the city of Bad Münstereifel. The only person who is willing to be her friend is StinkStefan, the most unpopular child in the school.

Very soon after that tragic event, another huge event takes place; Katharina Linden disappears at a carnival. She was last seen at a fountain in a Snow White costume. No one s...more
Lesley
This showed up on some lists of adult books for teens and I think it might appeal to some who like spooky, suspenseful stories. The narrator is a teen, but the entire story takes place when she was ten years old, so it's an odd mix of a child's point-of-view with a very adult story: little girls are vanishing without a trace from her seemingly idyllic town. What works well are the descriptions of small-town German life and the way the local grisly folklore seems just as real to the little girl a...more
Dee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Josie
I really liked this! I was surprised to discover it was a debut novel -- the writing is really strong, and some of the lines are just fantastic. ("Onkel Thomas was a man of very plain tastes and would as soon have thought of eating witchetty grubs as something non-German.") The tone and the story reminded me a lot of To Kill A Mockingbird -- a girl who wants to solve a mystery, an adult world she doesn't yet understand, a coming-of-age novel -- but not in a derivative way. Helen Grant's narrativ...more
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Helen Grant (born 1964 in London) is an English author of novels for young adults, now based in Scotland. She was educated at Dr Challoner's High School and went on to read classics at St Hugh's College, Oxford. Her first novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, was published by Penguin Books in April 2009.[1] It was shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the CILIP Carnegie Medal. It has

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More about Helen Grant...
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“My life might have been so different, had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded.” 5 likes
“At school, the news that Pia Kolvenbach was moving to England and that her parents were divorcing had circulated with lightening speed. Suddenly I was no longer ostracized for being the Potentially Exploding Girl, but the new attention was worse. I could tell that the girls who sidled up to me and asked with faux-sympathetic smiles whether it was true were doing it on the basis of discussions they had heard between their own parents, to who they would report back like scouts. Soon there would be nothing left of me at all, nothing real: I would be a walking piece of gossip, alternatively tragic and appalling and, worse of all, a poor thing.” 3 likes
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