Select one of the keywords
Julia Vanishes: The Witch's Child    by Catherine Egan order for
Julia Vanishes
by Catherine Egan
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2016 (2016)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Catherine Egan's Julia Vanishes is the first in her YA historical fantasy series, The Witch's Child, set in a Dickensian city (Spira) with magic at work - there, witches are regularly drowned in public Cleansings as the king works to eliminate all magic from the realm.

Teen Julia and her older brother Benedek (who survived the Scourge that decimated the population) were rescued from dire poverty by Esme after their mother was executed as a witch. They do jobs for Esme who rules the criminal underworld. Aiding in her work, Julia has a particular talent - she can make herself not quite invisible, but unseen by those around her. Julia loves Esme's adopted son Wyn.

As the story opens, the city is terrified by a series of horrific murders. Julia is working undercover for a mysterious client as a housemaid (Ella) in rich Mrs. Och's mansion which has a bizarre collection of house guests. In addition to the mistress and her assistant, Frederick, there's Mr. Darius, who is locked in the basement every night. Terrible sounds come from there. And Professor Baranyi, who reads forbidden books, was once imprisoned for heretical writings.

After a young woman, Bianka, and her small son come to Mrs. Och's, Julia befriends them. Everyone at the mansion has been kind to her, especially Frederick. But then her client, Pia, demands that Julia do something awful. And though she follows orders, she immediately regrets it. She has become embroiled in a conflict between powerful immortals and their soldiers - can she do what is right and still survive?

This first episode does a fair amount of world building, making it rather complicated, but otherwise it's fast moving and action packed, and will leave readers anxious for more of Julia's perilous adventures.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews