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The Disappearances

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What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home--and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together--scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream--vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible--and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone's secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

388 pages, Hardcover

First published July 4, 2017

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About the author

Emily Bain Murphy

3 books398 followers
Emily Bain Murphy was born in Indiana and raised in Hong Kong and Japan. She graduated from Tufts University and has also called Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California home.

Murphy is the author of SPLINTERS OF SCARLET and THE DISAPPEARANCES, which was a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, an ALAN Pick, and shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize.

Murphy is represented by Peter Knapp at Park & Fine Literary and Media. She currently lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and three children. Follow her online on Instagram @emilybainmurphy and www.EmilyBainMurphy.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 955 reviews
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,074 followers
September 4, 2018
"Theories abound...that it's some sort of curse. That it's a change in brain or sensory function - something passed down through families as a genealogical trait. We've explored the idea of it being something in the air or water or soil. That we were all having a psychotic break. Or maybe it's just something random and unfortunate, like being struck with a disease."

3.5 ⭐️

I enjoyed The Disappearances. Set in the 1940s during WW2, Aila and her brother Miles are sent to live with their mother's childhood best friend as their father has gone to war and their mother unfortunately passed away suddenly. When they arrive in their new home of Sterling, they realise Sterling is not your average town. Every seven years something goes missing for all the residents in Sterling and two neighbouring towns. From their sense of smell, reflections to their dreams at night. The residents are worried at what caused this, and if it could ever be stopped.

The chapters switch between Aila's POV as she settles in Sterling and learns more about the disappearances, and a mysterious POV which eventually becomes clear - someone interested in the disappearances for their own means.

As we learn about Aila's mother's past and her childhood in Sterling the mystery of the disappearances grows ever more complex. I enjoyed all the different theories, and watching the mystery unravel.

"When you're in love...doesn't that kind of make everything sing?' She smiles in a way that is both wide and sad. 'Yes', she says, 'And when it's over, everything gets disjointed, until some days I can hardly find the music in anything anymore."

It was a solid 4 star read right up until the end. I liked that a lot of the answers were found in Shakespeare - all the types of disappearances and the variants created in an attempt to replace them.

Other than that I thoroughly enjoyed this magical book, it was certainly different :)

"When just the right things come together, there is always a bit of magic. And when just the wrong combination of things do...there is tragedy."
Profile Image for Luke Taylor.
Author 15 books299 followers
July 4, 2017
So what is The Disappearances?


A cryptic carousel of entendre and experience, mystery and memory, love and loss, hatred and hope, chance and choice, science and a summons of the sublime, where secrets have been left to grow fetid in their dusky shadows and familial wounds have woven a spell around a quartet of towns like a cerulean ribbon in a young girl’s plaited hair, Emily Bain Murphy’s glimmering debut shines and sparkles with every sort of magic under the stars. Her literary gifts clearly evident from the very onset, Emily displays a mastery the craft in a swirl of subtlety and serenity, spookiness and sensuality, giving everything in The Disappearances the impression of dreamy cinema verite.


Stephen King once said, “Good books do not give up their secrets all at once.” – and to summarize the plot and themes and box this book up in a neat little package would be cruel and inhuman. Read the book and watch it unwrap itself, as if kissed by the very fingers of the wind, curling itself around you to hold you captive until you finish it. Fully stocked with metaphors (many of them of the avian variety!) and a deeply embedded code that will thrill the most extreme literature enthusiasts (be still my beating heart and blame The Bard for being such a catalyst to the author), Emily’s origami prose is so good it might inspire you to write portions of it on your thigh. Trust me on that one.


I really, really love this book and it really got me. Like it understood me and what I wanted and what I needed. It opened itself up to me and showed me all of its colors in a gray gray world. It reminded me of all the things I hold dear and all the things I believe. It inspired me and entertained me in equal measure and it sure as snow made me feel good. My deepest gratitude to Emily Bain Murphy for carving and crafting and creating such a wonderful and profound novel (and letting me support what I predict to be its amazing journey into the hearts and minds of readers and their bulging bookshelves), and to Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of this inimitable book.

Recommended for everyone.
Profile Image for Chelsea Sedoti.
Author 5 books515 followers
June 8, 2016
If I would have read THE DISAPPEARANCES as a teenager, I would have been obsessed.

I would have gathered herbs to mix Variants. I would have drawn hearts on my arm and read every bit of Shakespeare I could get my hands on. I would have pretended I lived in Sterling and ignored the rational part of my brain that told me THE DISAPPEARANCES was only a book.

Because I would have desperately wanted it to be real.

To be fair, even as an adult I’m pretty obsessed with THE DISAPPEARANCES—I’m just a little more reasonable in my obsession. You know, gushing about how much I love the book instead of actively trying to live in the world Emily Bain Murphy created.

THE DISAPPEARANCES is magical. It’s beautiful and melancholy, and filled with gorgeous writing that captivated me from the very first page.

I was charmed by Aila, the tragic (but optimistic) main character. I was charmed by Sterling, the mysterious town where Aila is sent to live after her mother’s death. And the Disappearances themselves were so creative and wonderful and terrible that they blew me away.

I’m actually sure not how to talk about this book without spoilers. And I really don’t want to spoil anything. I only knew a little bit about it before reading, and discovering more along the way was such a pleasure that I’d hate to deny someone else the same experience. This book isn’t, like, a twisty thriller, of course. But it’s filled with so many beautiful surprises.

Parts of THE DISAPPEARANCES were heartbreaking. Parts were thrilling and uplifting. And every bit of it was completely enchanting. It’s the kind of book that’ll stay with you long after you finish reading.

I wish I could say more. I want to gush about every single part of this book. But I’ll let everyone find out for themselves how incredible it is.

Because it is incredible. The only think I dislike about THE DISAPPEARANCES is that I can’t actually climb into the pages and live there.
Profile Image for Lindsay Cummings.
Author 16 books5,126 followers
March 6, 2017
Lovely and well written story! I had no idea it was a historical until I got into it, which actually made me pleasantly surprised. So many great lessons in this one!
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
January 14, 2020
Another torturous read undertaken for the sake of my book club. We need to pick better!

It's not that this book is strictly bad, but it is incredibly boring. Boring mystery, boring people, boring and nonsensical magic, boring teen romance.

And a note to the author: it takes more to writing WWII historical fiction than having your characters say "Swell!" once in a while.

P.S. What in the world was this deal with ninja stars? Such a weird addition to, again, WWII historical setting.
Profile Image for Danielle (The Blonde Likes Books).
592 reviews331 followers
August 31, 2017
When Aila's mother Juliet dies and her father is drafted for the war, she and her brother Miles pack up and move to the city of Sterling to stay with her mother's best friend. Sterling is also the city her mother grew up in, and it's full of mysteries. 

Not long after arriving, Aila and Miles find out that in the city of Sterling something new disappears every 7 years. Things like reflections, scent, and the stars are gone, and there are rumors that Aila's mother was the catalyst for the disappearances starting. Aila is determined to take her mother's notes and solve the mystery of Sterling and its disappearances once and for all. 

The Disappearances was told in alternating POVs, between Aila and an ominous third party who is up to no good, however we don't know who they are yet. Overall, I enjoyed the story and thought it was very unique! I've never read anything quite like this book, and Shakespeare was incorporated in the book pretty heavily, which I loved. 

The one small qualm I had was around the pacing - I did feel like there were some parts in the middle that started to drag, and I felt like the relationship that occurred between Aila and a boy named Will could have been developed a little better. I felt more like I was being told that they liked each other rather than shown until the very end of the book. I absolutely loved the last third of the book. Everything fell together, and a lot of things were revealed and the pace picked up a lot. I was really curious about how the book would end, and I enjoyed the ending a lot. 

The Disappearances was set in the 1940s, and I think the author did a great job of capturing the atmosphere and ambiance, and the writing was spot on. Overall, this was an impressive debut novel from Ms. Murphy, and I'm excited to see what she writes in the future! Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and Emily Bain Murphy for an advanced copy of the book. It was my pleasure to provide an honest review. The Disappearances is out now, so be sure to check this one out! 
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,297 reviews342 followers
June 23, 2017
About: The Disappearances is a magical realism novel written by Emily Bain Murphy. It will be published on 7/4/17 by HMH Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 400 pages. The genres are young adult, fiction, magical realism, and fantasy. This book is the author’s debut novel and is intended for readers ages 12 and up, grades 7 and up.

My Experience: I started reading The Disappearances on 6/19/17 and finished it on 6/22/17. I love reading this book! It has just enough mystery sprinkle in the flow of the story that makes me want to read on and on. The characters are all likeable. The plot is interesting. There are enough actions and adventures to give me adrenaline rush and suspense. This is my first magical realism read and I enjoyed it a lot!

“When just the right things come together, there is always a bit of magic. And when just the wrong combination of things do.. there is tragedy.” p116

In this book, readers will follow the point of view of Aila Quinn, 15 years old as she says goodbye to her father who is leaving to go to the warfront. Aila is catching a train to Sterling with her younger brother Miles to live with her late mother’s best friend, Matilda Cliffton. Not long since they moved into the Cliffton’s household, they started noticing strange things. Miles noticed that flowers doesn’t give off any scents and Aila noticed that she doesn’t see her reflection in the water fountain. Matilda then explained to Aila and her brother what happened in Sterling is called The Disappearances, that every 7 years, something disappears from their life. One time the people in the town can’t smell anything and the next seven years dreams disappears. It has been 35 years and no one understand what caused it and no one knows what will disappear when the next 7 years comes. There are 3 towns that The Disappearances affected: Sheffield, Sterling, and Corrander. One person that the townsfolks like to blame is Juliet Quinn, Aila and Miles’ mother because she is the only person not affected by The Disappearances. Others have tried to leave town but what disappeared for them in Sterling also disappeared for them no matter where they live. The people just continue to stay in Sterling and accept their fate. Matilda’s husband, Malcolm is an inventor and he able to invent Variants that brings back what disappeared from them, even only temporary. This year, The Disappearances occurred out of the norms because as soon as music disappears from their life, something else disappears soon after. And then a fourth town is affected and what had disappeared for the 3 previous towns every 7 years, it happens to the fourth town all at once. People are nervous and Aila believes that she’s close to understand how it all began.

“I feel a surge of euphoria, terrifying and addictive, every time I think of him. It’s almost like being hit with a Variant: a pure shot of joy, bottled and shimmering, multiplying even as I try to empty it from my hand.” p302

This book is very well written. I love Shakespeare’s involvement. I love the finishing word concept. I like the alternating point of views. I love the little drawn hearts and riddles. I like Aila and her friends George and Bea. They are awesome supporting characters. I like Aila and her friends as they work through the problem to unravel the mystery. This story is different from anything I have read and I couldn’t devour it fast enough. I highly recommend everyone to read this book!

Pro: mystery, page turner, couldn’t put down, family, friendship, light romance, Shakespeare

Con: none

I rate it 5 stars!

***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for a detailed review
Profile Image for Warda.
1,154 reviews18.4k followers
August 26, 2017
Not too sure how to review this book. I don't even know whether the rating reflects me just feeling shitty or that I didn't connect with this book as much as I hoped I would.

I didn't hate it, or love it.

When I first began reading, I thought it was exactly what I needed. Something light and YA. And so the beginning of the book drew me in and the air of mystery surrounding the whole story is what kept me reading.

It's set in the 1940s. It's a story about a town where disappearances occur every seven years, so the people living in the town have lost their sense of smell, for example, and more. So our main character, Aila, is trying to figure out what this alleged Curse is. For the time being, they have Variants, which counteract the things that disappear and is a replacement.

Meanwhile, it follows another mysterious POV that is a lot more darker and was probably my favourite part of the book.

Though it's set in the 40s, it didn't read like historical fiction. Other than the constant references to Shakespeare, who plays a big role in this book, so if he's your thing (it's not mine), alongside magical realism, then you'll really enjoy this book.

The characters fell slightly flat though. I didn't form an attachment to any of them and I think that's what bugged me. As well as the Shakespeare reference. Never was a fan of his work.

But I still enjoyed it, for its lightheartedness, for its mystery and the 2nd POV that got progressively creepier.
Profile Image for The Sassy Bookworm.
3,370 reviews2,307 followers
June 28, 2017


descriptionGreat cover on this book. It is simple, but a great representation of the story and it has some unique title work.description

descriptionI am not sure, but it appears as if this book is the author's debut. Perhaps she writes under a different pen name? In any case, I was beyond impressed with this story. When I requested this ARC, I wasn't aware that this was going to be set back in the 1940's. I may have passed it over had I known that and what a missed opportunity that would have been!


The writing was fantastic. The plot was unique and intricate. Layer by layer the author peels away the mystery of the Disapperences in such a way that it has you turning the pages frantically. There is magic and friendships. Interesting secondary characters. Twists and turns. A smidge of young romance. Well developed and likable main characters. And finally SHAKESPEARE! How can I NOT love a book that brings the Bard into the mix?

Two HUGE thumbs up from yours truly.description


Profile Image for Stacee.
2,711 reviews703 followers
June 3, 2017
I was instantly interested in this premise and was quite eager to get to it.

I really liked Aila. She's heartbroken and kind of feisty and I was really intrigued by what was going on. I fully enjoyed being in her head. There are several other characters and a few definitely stood out, but I don't want to ruin anything.

Plot wise, it's captivating and slow at the same time. There's a quiet anticipation that I wasn't expecting as each revelation comes sandwiched in between scenes of normal life like school and family dinner. There was a different POV that confused me at first, but eventually I settled into it. And I have an insane and absolute love for what it is, how things get resolved, and the last chapter.

Overall, it was something unique and lovely. I can't wait to see other things Emily comes up with.

**Huge thanks to HMH Books for Young Readers for providing the arc free of charge**
407 reviews8 followers
August 25, 2017
This wasn't what I expected; it was so much more.
When Aila's mother died and her father is shipped off to war she ends up back in the town where her mother grew up. That is when things go from bad to worse. Everyone is acting very strange and most of the people in town seem to hate her. Where are all the mirrors? Why didn't she have her reoccurring nightmare?

Great story line. Awesome setting (it makes the story) I easily related to the main character. Loved the twists and turns.
Profile Image for Anna Priemaza.
Author 3 books184 followers
July 5, 2017
I loved this book to pieces! Loved loved loved it!

I coveted this book from the moment I first read the description, and I was over the moon when I got it early--but also a bit nervous because I knew my expectations were set excessively high and it'd be hard to meet them. I needn't have worried. This book met my high expectations and blew them out of the water.

This book is gorgeous. It's haunting. It's terrible and beautiful and wonderful. I cried numerous times. I got stupid, giddy grins on my face and felt like my heart was going to burst.

I'm not going to say a thing about the plot because every moment feels like a spoiler. Just know that this book is gorgeous. And riveting. And perfection.
Profile Image for bookaholic_kim.
408 reviews50 followers
October 2, 2017
How on earth can this book be a debut novel? Wow! Just wow! This book is amazing. It is written in a perspective of 2 people in different places but there is a connection which adds to the mysterious vibe.

So in this book we follow the characters, Aila and Miles who moved to live with their mother’s friend in Sterling, their mom’s hometown. Not long when they noticed strange things in this town. Why do the flowers don’t have smell and why are there no mirrors. Then, they were informed that every 7 years, something disappears. On top of that, people in that town is blaming some people of the disappearances and it includes their mother. Aila now has to prove to this people that her mother is not who they think she is. Aila thinks she can stop the disappearance with the help of the clues that her mother left.

I love how the story started, it didn’t take long to introduce the conflict. There is already mystery in the beginning and it elevates as you go further to the story. It is a fast paced read that I had to read faster than my normal pace because I had to know what happened or what causes the disappearances.

It is also an easy read, the setting is well written and so the characters. We have numerous characters but they were given distinct roles so there is hardly confusion between them.

I read this book without knowing much of the plot which I think is the right way to read it. So I recommend you to read it now before reading any more reviews as some spoilers might ruin the reading experience.
Profile Image for Warrengent.
127 reviews12 followers
February 25, 2017
Believe the hype about this book, it was absolutely beautiful in every way possible.
I found it physically impossible to put it down.
Profile Image for Breeana Shields.
Author 5 books416 followers
February 18, 2017
I'm not sure I have words to properly describe how much I loved this book. It was simply perfection---literally the only thing I didn't like about it was that it ended. The writing is gorgeous. The author adds tiny, precise details that make the world and the characters come alive--it was breathtaking and masterfully done.

And the story itself was fascinating and utterly unique. Don't read too many reviews about the plot before you dive in. This book is full of intrigue and mystery and is best experienced without knowing too much ahead of time.

I have a feeling Emily Bain Murphy is going to be an auto-buy author for me. This book just worked for me on every level. Highly, highly recommended.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,001 reviews369 followers
July 28, 2017
4.5 Stars!

I'm always pleasantly surprised when an YA author can mange to knock me off my feet with not only somethings completely original and unique, but something so good it is hard to put it down.
What a wonderful read set in a time and place like no other. Absolutely adored Aila, Will, Miles, Beas, the Clifftons and just about everyone else as well.

I will definitely be checking out this authors other books in the future.
Profile Image for Wendi Lee.
Author 1 book468 followers
March 7, 2017
*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review*

Sterling is different. Aila doesn't notice this as first - she is still reeling from the death of her mother, and the move away from her old home, friends, and town. But with her father off to the War front, she and her brother have no choice but to live with their mother's childhood friend.

I started reading with the expectations of magic with a capital "M", complete with fairies and other supernatural creatures.. I thought this might be a thriller, lots of action. This book contains neither of those elements, and for that, I love it even more. There are a lot of supernatural thrillers out there right now. This book is unique. When I read it, I felt like I was reading a book with more classical roots. The pacing is languid, like a summer that never ends (which isn't a precise analogy, because the story starts just at the beginning of fall, but you know what I mean). It takes place during World War II, but the people of Sterling are so insulated, that the pacing felt perfect. For them, there is nothing outside of their small town. The writing is beautiful, and I felt a strong connection with Aila and her new adoptive family.

And the mystery of Sterling is amazing. Every seven years, the citizens of Sterling lose something small, but vitally important - the stars in the sky, the ability to smell. Aila and her brother arrive just as Sterling is bracing for another Disappearance, and they endure a lot of hostility, as it turns out their mother was the only citizen to escape Sterling and the permanent effects of the Disappearances.

This book loses a star because I had some questions that were left unanswered as the mystery of the Disappearances were unraveled. But overall, I loved this book, and would gladly read more about Aila and the town of Sterling.
Profile Image for Katerina  Kondrenko.
498 reviews828 followers
May 11, 2020
10.5 out of 10

Guh, I wanted to read this book since it was announced and then something changed my mind and I deleted it from my TBR. Lucky me to find it again, to pick it among others, and to fall in love with it.

That was such an amazing journey! If you still struggle with what magical realism is, read it! Before "The Disappearances" I'd suggested "The Night Circus" to feel the genre, but not everyone likes abstract metaphors and purple (even when it's a good one) prose without a solid plot. Here is another situation. We have a plot! It's a bittersweet story set in WWII but separated from the war, it's about family and simple things we lost our taste for just because we never lost them. Love, friendship, life. Also, secrets! So deep characters, so accurate words, so many tears, and mostly happy ones.

The finishing word is recommended
Profile Image for Joanne.
1,026 reviews148 followers
July 16, 2017
Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.

Trigger warning: This book features a suicide attempt.

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy sounded amazing. It had such an incredible premise, and it showed so much promise, but it fell flat for me right at the end.

It's 1942, and three weeks after their mother dies, Aila and Miles' father has to go to war. As there's no-one to look after them, they go to Sterling with Mrs Cliffton, their mother's childhood best friend, and her husband Dr Cliffton.  Sterling is a small quiet, town no different from any other - except that something will go missing every seven years. It started 35 years ago, and the people of Sterling have lost scents, the stars, their reflections, and their dreams. Aila and Miles aren't made to feel welcome in Sterling, as some believe it was their mother who caused the Disappearances; they started when she was born, and when she left Sterling, she got everything back, while other members of Sterling never did. And with another Disappearances due this year, the people of Sterling are worried, even more so now that Aila and Miles are here. Desperate to clear her mother's name, Aila tries to find out all she can about the Disappearances; what causes them, and how to stop them. But the past is full of secrets, and curses can be more intricate than she ever imagined.

Doesn't that sound just so exciting?! I was so eager for this to be amazing and blow my mind! The Disappearances is one of those quiet, calm stories, and normally I enjoy that kind of story, but it took a while to really get going, for Aila to have a theory that looked like it might lead somewhere. But once it did, oh my god, it was so good! It was so clever and so complicated, but so intriguing and fascinating. Murphy really know her stuff, and I was just so impressed and so eager for the truth.

And then there's the mysterious Stefen. For the most part, the story is narrated by Aila, but every now and then there would be a chapter from Stefen, coming more often as the story goes on. He, also, used to know Aila's mother. When we meet him, he's about to commit suicide by jumping in front of a train. At the last minute, he changes his mind, and decides to go and meet his father, Phineas. He's never met him before due to being in prison for grave robbery, and never coming back for Stefan when he got out. Stefan has a troubled past; he caught influenza when he was young, and it really affected him. He was left in a wheelchair for a long time, unable to do most things like children his age, like go to school. His legs are stronger now, and he can walk, but he still struggles. There's also the fact that he and Juliet, Aila and Miles' mother, fell out a long time ago, and there was someone from his past that he was in love with. He too is affected by the Disappearances, and is jealous of Dr Cliffton for discovering the Variants, something he believes he should have got some credit for. But he has a plan of his own. I was so intrigued by him! Who is Stefan? How did he know Juliet? Is he somehow linked to it all? And his own plan. It's all so intriguing, but he's also kind of sinister. Even so, I really enjoyed his chapters.

The problem is, there were too many questions without answers. Firstly, Dr Cliffton is a scientist who discovered Variants, things which will bring back the lost things temporarily for the user of the Variants. He's discovered Variants for reflections and for scents, but not for the stars or for dreams. But in his experiments, he's discovered other Variants, and so has a doctor in a sister town - because it's three towns that are affected by the curse, not just Sterling - so there are now Variants that will create warmth, Variants that will keep the rain off you, and so on. But there's no explanation as to how they work, or why they work. As the story goes on, we learn more about specific Variants, what's in them, and the link there is to literature, how sometimes they can point out things that Dr Cliffton has tried and has worked. So we know literature, in some way, is involved, and although we don't get told why or how the Variants work, I assumed it was part of the overall mystery of the curse, and when the truth finally came out, it would be explained. No. I mean, I've finished the book, and so I know what the curse was about, but it doesn't explain why, for example, crushed Blessed Thistle can bring back scents. I don't accept that it works because an author wrote about it. It gets difficult for me to discuss my problems with this without spoiling the story, but basically, so what? So what if this person wrote about it? Why does that make it work? And how does it work? I know you sprinkle it on flowers or food, and voila smell, but how does it actually bring back scents? There were no answers.

And the ending was just the biggest disappointment of all. I was getting so close to the end, and still no answers, and so I was sure this would end on a cliffhanger and there would be a second book. But no. The ending is convenient, and really, just ridiculous. It just all happened too quickly, and there are still so many unanswered questions. There are so many holes! I know about the curse, but there are still so many how's and why's! That whole ending could have been taken and developed a whole lot more. It was far too easy. It was ridiculously easy. I feel cheated. It should never have been that easy, they never would have worked it out without something conveniently happening. They would have no idea. And there's never any proof about their theories anyway. There is so much conjecture about what's going on without any real proof that this is the case. Aila and her group of friends just decide this must be it because it all seems to work out, but they don't know for sure, and they just go along with it, and yes, they're right.

It should have been harder to work out, harder to fix, and more questions should have been answered. This is fantasy - historical fantasy, yes, but still fantasy. None of this happens in real life, so you've got to make it believable. And to make it believable, you've got to work on the world building. You've got to answer all questions and have things make sense. It's got to be believable! That whole ending could have been worked on and made into a second book. I finished the book in complete disbelief, and quite angry really. It was a shoddy ending, and I'm so disappointed and so annoyed.

The Disappearances had so much promise! It was doing so well! I really can't believe Murphy got away with that ending really. I feel ripped off. I really don't know if I'll read anything by Murphy again, because although the book completely had be gripped and seemed so clever, with no answers and an easy, convenient ending, I just can't see why it would be worth my time.

*I requested The Disappearances on NetGalley a while back, and was then offered the opportunity to review the UK edition a couple of weeks ago. I accepted, not realising they were the same book until later.

Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers via NetGalley for the eProof, and thank you to Pushkin Children's Books for the review copy.
4 reviews2 followers
August 3, 2016
Sometimes you read a book and you fall so deeply in love with it that you can’t put that feeling into words. THE DISAPPEARANCES is one of those books for me. I can’t say what one thing made this book rock my world because there are simply so many. This book with infused with the type of magical writing and characters that take my breath away. It is magic down to its very core.

So read this book for the magic, the actual unique, lovely magic. Read this book for the characters, who are warm and real and so perfectly alive. Read it for the Clifftons, a family I fell so deeply in love with that I want to move into their home and never leave. Read it for a complex sibling relationship that is vexing and heart-warming in equal measure, but completely realistic in every moment. Read it for the friendships. Read it for tiny hearts scrawled on elbows. Heck, read it for the Shakespeare!

But for whatever reason you choose, make sure you read this book.
Profile Image for Meigan.
1,132 reviews67 followers
July 4, 2017
Filled with mystery, magic, and an abundance of creativity, The Disappearances simultaneously captivated and enchanted me from the very first page.

What would you do if something you've taken for granted was suddenly taken from you? Something so incredibly simple, like the smell of flowers, or the stars at night, or even your very own reflection? Such is the case with Aila Quinn when she and her brother have to relocate to a small town called Sterling. Their mother is recently deceased and if that weren't heartbreaking enough, their only family left — their father — has been drafted in the war. When they finally settle in to the home of their mother's childhood friend in their mother's hometown, it's apparent that something is amiss. The flowers have no scent. The food is odorless. Weirdest of all, there is no reflection. Nothing on the surface of a puddle, nothing in a mirror, nothing in a window. No reflection whatsoever, from any surface whatsoever. Through many attempts at an explanation, Aila finally learns that the town of Sterling, along with two other sister towns, deal with something the townspeople have coined The Disappearances. Every seven years, like clockwork on the same date, something is taken from them. First it was the smells, and now, 35 years later with so much already taken from them, it's anyone's guess what's going to be taken next.

This book. Hooked me from the very first page, and kept me hooked until the very last. Enchanting and captivating seem too mild of terms, seriously, because The Disappearances latched on to my heart and my brain and nestled in, much like an unrelenting musical ear worm. So much creativity to be had in this novel, and I can't adequately describe my love for it. And really, it's rare to come across a book that hits so many high notes in every single area, but this book did that in spades.

The mystery surrounding the disappearances was such a phenomenal element, and I adored the characters' perseverance after so much has been taken away. The older generation has lived through all 35 years of these strange occurrences, but that doesn't mean it doesn't affect the younger generation. They may not have lived through all 35 years, but they're missing everything the older generation is. The phenomenon is all-encompassing, meaning if you live in these areas, you fall prey to the taking. And unfortunately for all, it's inescapable, follows you no matter where you go, with one exception: there's only one person who managed to escape, and that one person isn't looked upon fondly by much of the population.

The characters, oh, the characters! Each and every one was brilliant, and I especially love the resilience and the strength that each of them possessed, but Aila and Miles were certainly my favorite in that regard. Coming to a town where they're both new and frowned-upon because of past events, the adversity they had to face on a daily basis was certainly quite a challenge for such young folks. And the romance, there were definitely several instances where I think I actually felt my heart melting, and if I were 16 years old, I would definitely be looking for a Will of my own.

Bottom line - I loved this book. LOVED it, and it's definitely going on my favorites of 2017 shelf. Do yourself a favor - if you only read or buy one book this year, make it The Disappearances. A magical, wonderful, heart-filled book that I will definitely be recommending to anyone and everyone, and I'll most definitely be looking for anything in the future with Emily Bain Murphy's name on it.

*eARC received via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Cale Dietrich.
Author 7 books752 followers
August 2, 2016
Oh, what a magical book this was. I loved it so much.

Upon starting The Disappearances, I was instantly transported into its totally charming and intriguing world of magic and Variants and family secrets. It’s such a compelling, original world, and The Disappearances themselves are so inventive and wonderfully scary. With the addition to fantastic characters, this all combines to make a book that feels like it’s breaking new ground for YA, by combining classic elements (the setting, and just the general vibe) with modern storytelling, to create a world that felt instantly familiar/comfortable, and at the same time, thrillingly new and exciting.

I also LOVE the main character, Aila. She’s smart, curious, and totally loveable. I also loved the way she interacted with the other characters in this story, like her younger brother, Miles. Seriously, on top of all the magic and mystery and phenomenal world building, I think this book has one of the best explorations of the complicated older sister/younger brother relationship. I won’t go into detail here in fear of spoilers, but I found their relationship incredibly powerful. Also, again, I won’t go into specifics here because of spoilers, but I shipped the main pairing SO MUCH. Seriously, every time they had a scene together I found myself smiling. They just go together so well! And they’re both so cute!

The small town setting also felt really interesting for a fantasy, as the mystery/magic really is linked to the relationships between the families, sometimes dating quite far back into their history. One of the main ways Aila investigates The Disappearances is by diving into the histories of the townspeople, and I LOVED THIS. It totally feeds into that need I get sometimes to snoop/investigate secrets. But yeah, I thought this was great.

All in all, this is a magical book, one that somehow manages to both feel like an established classic and a fresh and original YA. I’m totally in love with this world/this book, and I can’t wait to read whatever Bain Murphy comes up with next.
Profile Image for TheYALibrarian.
295 reviews133 followers
November 20, 2017
ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

DNF 40%

I wish I didn't try so hard for months to read this book but I really hate not being able to finish a book. But for this one it felt like I was wading through water and it took all my willpower to focus on it because nothing was grabbing me. Here is why:

First is that the time period that this book takes place in doesn't really seem to fit well with the story. I feel like it would have been more interesting and effective if this took place in modern day not the 1940s. Its the first time I have ever thought the time period wasn't effective for the plot.

There was also too many vague plot holes and it felt like some could have be revealed sooner so the reader wouldn't be so confused and bored. It was interesting when the secret of the town was revealed but there was still so much that was not being told as to why this town is so odd and how There was also the frequent journal entry and it was never clear who it was. It is definitely fine to keep readers in suspense but after several chapters with no clues it got more annoying than interesting.

So maybe I'll return to this book but I have so many other books in front of it that I'm dying to read so I can't say for sure that I will.
Profile Image for Sakshi Kathuria.
77 reviews51 followers
July 25, 2018
What a bollocks freaking jumping jack & riddle of a story !! Loved every bit of the lucid narration and the premise was soul sucking with a freshness like mild dew in the morning. If you haven't read this, you are really missing a good story with a solid and freshest voice in a long time.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,564 reviews2,312 followers
March 28, 2020
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy is a very intriguing book! It's about two siblings that have to go live with their mother's childhood friend when their mother died. Their father was called to war. This was in the early 1940's. The family and town they live in now is very strange. The family is very loving and nice but has secrets. The town hates the new kids. Slowly things are revealed but not all. Every seven years the people lose something, they never know what! The seven years are up and they are worried about what they will lose this time!
Great twists and turns! Great fantasy world! I was just going to read a little then sleep but ended up reading until I finished it! I couldn't stop!
Profile Image for Karen • The Book Return.
264 reviews64 followers
October 14, 2017

Read the review and more on my blog.The Book Return Blog
WWII is in full force. Aila and Miles' mother has just died. When their father is drafted, they have no choice but to stay with their mother's childhood friend in the town their mother grew up in. Once there they realize things in the town of Sterling are different from the rest of the world.

Magical realism is a genre that is very hard to execute well. If it is done correctly it opens the door to a whole new world. Done incorrectly the story just seems silly. The 'Disappearance' is done so amazingly well that I was entirely enthralled. The story painted vivid pictures in my mind. The story and scenes are unbelievably detained and bring you into Aila's world.

I was extremely excited to realize that 'The Disappearances' is set in the 1940's. A time without cell phones, computers, the internet, or even tv. The setting helps to highlight just how out-of-place the 'disappearances' are. The time frame also shows how much was sacrificed by everyone during WWII and what a time of uncertainty it was.

The characters of Aila and Miles juxtaposed each other perfectly and I connected with Aila right away. Dr. and Mrs. Cliffton were quirky and fit well with the storyline.

Another element that added a lot to the story is Aila's quest to figure out who her mother really was and why the 'disappearances' are happening. Aila does this by following literary clues that her mother left. This adds another dimension to the story and kept me turning pages.

I absolutely loved 'The Disappearances' and can not believe this is Murphy's début novel. It is not only an amazing story but also makes you stop and appreciate the little things in life that we often take for granted.

GIVEAWAY: Prize: Win (1) of (3) copies of THE DISAPPEARANCES by Emily Bain Murphy



Follow the Tour Here This review was originally posted on The Book return...

Profile Image for Carlie Sorosiak.
Author 8 books261 followers
September 16, 2016
The Disappearances is one of the most uniquely atmospheric books I've ever read. It really does transport you into this strange, little town where the most commonplace things simply disappear. I had high hopes for this book... and then it blew those hopes completely out of the water. Even from the first pages, you know that this is going to be a very, very special read. It literally gave me goosebumps, and is a literary lover's dream. As one other reviewer noted, if I read this as a teen, I would've been OBSESSED. (Well, still kind of am obsessed...)

I can already say that it's one of my favorite books of 2017, based on the world-building alone (I can totally see it as a film!), but the characters are also exceedingly strong. Aila is incredibly easy to cheer on, and her bond with Miles is completely heartwarming. On another note, the romance in The Disappearances is a pitch-perfect slow-burner that will have you saying awwwwww by the end.

The writing style is exactly what I want in a YA book: flowing gorgeousness with breathtaking images.

There are so many twists and turns, and I don't want to say too much for fear of spoiling such an intricately woven plot, but the conclusion will leave you very satisfied indeed.

Profile Image for Veronika.
482 reviews144 followers
September 29, 2017
“But really, aren't there bits of magic everywhere we look? We've just stopped seeing it that way.”

Thank you to the publisher & Netgalley for giving me a free copy in exchange of an honest review!

I received The Disappearances months ago on Netgalley, but I kept putting it off, because, even though it sounded exactly like my kind of book, I was scared it won't live up to my expectations. Now I feel like the biggest idiot in the world, because it didn't only live up to my expectations, but far exceeded them. It was one fantastic book, to say the least. I loved it so much that I've been having trouble putting together a coherent review, so I'm going to make a list of all the awesome-sauce things in this one.

Reasons Why The Disappearances is PERFECT

- The writing was gorgeous without being too flowery or over-descriptive and it grabbed my attention from the very first page. I was so surprised when I realized that Emily Bain Murphy is a debut author?? HOW??? She is so good?? What is this sorcery??

- But seriously, Murphy's story-telling skill is off the charts, The Disappearances is essentially a slower-flowing story, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't 100% into it from start to finish. Actually, as soon as I finished the novel I wanted - still do - more like this. Alas, I think The Disappearances is one of its kind.

- The Disappearances definitely had many elements that screamed magical realism, but, interestingly, and this is a combination I've never seen before, it also had an aspect that was centered around science. It was super-cool to see these rather different elements flourish together in this story, something I would have thought close to impossible prior to picking this book up.

- The pacing of the story was also fantastic, which might sound like it's a minor thing, but I'm not sure I've ever read a novel that's pacing was so right up my alley. The Disappearances had the perfect build-up to the mystery, with the characters actively seeking answers and working together whilst several shocking/devastating things were happening.

- Shakespeare was a huge part of the book - I'm not going to go into detail, because #spoilers, but let's just say, I've never before read a book that included a classical author and their works quite this creatively.

- Reading about Sterling was really intriguing, because it very much had the normal small-town vibe, but it was, of course, a lot more than a simple small town. It was essential for the people of Sterling and the sister towns to get on well with each other, because they only had the people of these towns to get them through the hardships of the Disappearances.

- Each and every character was well-crafted, unique and interesting to read about. I loved that Murphy cared about further developing all of them, not just the main characters, thus the "mean girl" was a lot more than a simple mean girl, while Aila's two new friends were having their unique set of problems, completely unrelated to Aila.

Here's a small list of the superb cast:

Aila, the main character and narrator, was so freaking complex. On one hand, she definitely felt somewhat shy to me, maybe more on the introverted side, but she was always ready for an adventure and she never let anyone trample all over her or anyone she cared about. She was also kind - even to those who don't necessarily deserved it.

Miles, Aila's little brother, was so very adorable omg. He was a tad bit mischievous and didn't always make the best decisions (I mean, he was a child, so that's totally realistic), but like Aila he loved his family fiercely. There were tons of scenes when I wanted to reach into the book and give him a huge hug, because he was just too precious and he didn't deserve anything bad to happen to him.

Will, the love interest, was so lovely and thoughtful and kind of a soft boy, to be honest, Aila had no chance but to fall in love with him. He went out of his way to help and include Aila and Miles in everything, and ah, he was just all around wonderful.

"Then he leans down and kisses me. His mouth is warm and soft, and my heart leaps up to graze my breastbone, and everything inside of me begins to bloom and glow and hum, and I kiss him back (...)"

- The family and friendship goals were strong in this one!

Aila and Miles's parents weren't featured in the story a lot, because their dad was serving in the army, while their mom passed away. However, it was 1000% obvious from flashbacks about their mom and letters from their dad that there was so much love in that family.

Aila and Miles didn't have the "perfect" relationship, but I don't suppose any siblings do. They argued and weren't always honest with or nice to each other, but at the end of the day they genuinely loved each other.

The Clifftons, the family Aila and Miles lived with, were wonderful people, as well. I found it so touching the way they did everything in their power to make Aila and Miles feel loved and part of their family.

"This is who I am finding the Clifftons to be. Eyes open, watching for the need around them, and quietly meeting it."

Overall, The Disappearances is an outstanding Historical novel, filled with magic, mystery and strong bonds between the characters. It's incredibly underrated at the moment, but believe me, it is well-worth reading.

The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 5/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: 5/5
Enjoy factor: 5/5
Final rating: 5/5
Profile Image for Coreen Angelie.
319 reviews70 followers
September 8, 2017
“But really, aren't there bits of magic everywhere we look?' Dr. Clifton continues. 'We've just stopped seeing it that way.”

This book and I, just kinda click together.
The moment I set my eyes on the first line, I was immediately transported into the world of Sterling, it feels like I’m being into two places at the same time and I am so glad because I haven’t had that feeling in a while up until I stumbled --literally-- on to this book.

This book is suppose to be historical fiction, but I just don’t get that old timely kind of vibe. It feels modern and magical at the same time. The setting of the novel is in Sterling, a town wherein something disappears every seven years, this is my first time reading a novel with this kind of concept, this is entirely new to me and I just adore everything about it. This book has the ability to transport the readers into a new world by just merely using few lines, the characters are great, the vibe, the town, the variants, the people just fits the story perfectly and I honestly have no words for it but perfection.
Aila, I think, is one of my favorite characters so far. I love the fact the she feels real, you know? The way she thinks, the way she feels insecure about herself sometimes, even the way that she’s been having pimples, lol , she’s not perfect but she’s also not ordinary. I just love this girl.
William, oh my god, this guys is just perfection. I love everything about him. Every single damn thing.
This book do have some shortcomings but I don’t give two shits about it coz I’m officially adding it to my favorites. I do hope that they turn this one into a series although I’m pretty satisfied with the ending.

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