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The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  2,441 Ratings  ·  511 Reviews
After Pia’s grandmother dies in a freak accident, the neighbors in her little German hometown of Bad Münstereifel glance at Pia with wary eyes. But then something else captures the community’s attention: the vanishing of Katharina Linden. Katharina was last seen at a parade, dressed as Snow White. Then, like a character in a Grimm’s fairy tale, she disappeared. Ten-year-ol ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Bantam (first published April 1st 2009)
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May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit late on the boat with this one, but better late than never. When this book came out, it was very popular, however I didn't know what to make of the summary and forgot about it. Then, as these things happen, a copy made its way into my bookshelf, and I was finally compelled to open it:-)
From Germany myself, I was charmed and excited that the book was not only set there, but contained so many cultural references that were so familiar to me, and a part of my own childhood. Fortunately,
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
graveyardgremlin (formerly 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 v
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Nov 25, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 31, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of Grant’s novel and it still haunts me. Wonderful, creepy, atmospheric mystery that would fit perfectly in the darkest collection of Grimms' folktales.
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
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 enoughpromising as it is, it's missing something. Despite initial appearances (and cover flap), this isn't so much a fairy ...more
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Edward's Ghost Engine (also known as.......... 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
Sep 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dustin Crazy little brown owl
"My life might have been so different, had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded."
- Opening Line in The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

The first sentence in the book is the best part - much of the following story is rather dull.

I first put this book on my to-read list back in 2010. I bought a copy in 2011. I first attemepted to read the book in 2012 and finally successfully completed the book with the assistance of an audiobook in 2016.
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I LOVED this book.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can recognize a little bit of German language when spoken and read. Has a handy glossary in the back with translations. Young Pia is a small town girl. Her grandmother's unnatural death by hairspray is in hindsight a bad omen for the town. Disappearance of title character follows shortly after.
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kristina A
The two-star rating, according to Goodreads, means, "it was ok," which is exactly how I felt about this book.

There were some wonderful ideas here; the reason I wanted to read it was because of the story's connection to German folk tales, and I liked the fact that many of the stories invoked were unfamiliar to me. There were also several very memorable scenes and images -- not the least of which is announced in the highly compelling first sentence: "My life might have been so different, had I not
Blake Fraina
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rebecca Ann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retellings
This book...WOW!

I mean, if you go through an episode within the opening pages about a grandma who accidentally blows herself up at the Advent have a good book on your hands! (I am DYING to tell you how it happens because the darkly humorous part of me finds it so absurdly funny--it's more of a "You have GOT to be kidding me with this!!" kind of reaction than anything--but I'm not going to spoil it so that you can experience it all on your own)

Anyway, it's not enough that now Pi
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
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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

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.” 7 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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