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.
Her latest job is paying very well indeed. Julia is posing as a housemaid in the grand house of Mrs. Och, where an odd assortment of characters live and work: A disgraced professor who keeps forbidden books and sends her to fetch parcels containing bullets, spiders, and poison. An aristocratic houseguest who is locked in the basement each night. And a mysterious young woman with an infant son who is clearly hiding—though from what or whom?
Worse, Julia has a creeping suspicion that there’s a connection between these people and the killer leaving a trail of bodies across the frozen city.
The more she learns, the more she wants to be done with this unnatural job. To go back to the safety of her friends and fellow thieves. But Julia is entangled in a struggle between forces more powerful than she’d ever imagined. Escape will come at a terrible price.
And even a girl who can vanish can’t walk away from her own worst deeds.
Before we begin, let me just admit to something here. When I requested this baby from NetGalley, I didn’t really know the genre or book description. I actually requested it based on title&cover, knowing only the YA part, feeling sure it’s a thriller, in fact. When I started reading it, I was like “Wh0a!! Fantasy!! Even better!!” With that being said…
Worldbuilding: The world of Witch’s Child series is truly awesome. We’re talking a fantasy world, Victorian-style, with different cities, religions, politics… I mean, a whole world, for real! Full of magic creatures, persecuted or not, and original creatures&myths (and cultures!!) that I loved. Big like!
Characters: Julia was a very interesting main character. She had a thirst for adventure and fun, a shade or recklessness, but she also had plenty of heart. I liked that she wasn’t black&white at all, but various shades of grey that got even more nuanced as the story unfolded. I loved her doubts, her changes of heart shall we say – her reactions to things. Julia was real. Not a didactic model for young audiences, not a clear pawn or a knight in a good versus evil conflict. Julia was real, and by the end of the novel, Julia was, in a way, gone 🙂 Don’t freak out, she’s the main character of a series, lol, she doesn’t die. But she changes. And I loved that about her.
I also liked other characters in the novel, how nuanced they all were pretty much.
Plot: There was quite a lot of suspense and some mystery in the story, not to mention adventure. We’re talking all sorts of fun things (thrilling murder mystery with a paranormal twist, spying, mercenary-like work), plus a pretty rapid pace of events, and quite a bit of excitement. I loved the story, and can’t wait to see how things evolve in the future.
Writing: First person, present tense narrative, Julia’s POV. Loved her voice and Catherine Egan’s writing style is pretty much fabulous, if you ask me.
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, and hooking blurb – but it had me at title+cover, honestly. Just gave me a vibe that it would be a good read. And it was 🙂
Some aspects of the novel are quite mature in nature, situations Julia goes through, choices she makes and impact they generate. I loved all of it, it made this novel feel like a real bildungsroman set in a fantastic world that felt so very authentic and real.
I recommend Julia Vanishes if you’re into Fantasy with an urban, Victorian air to it, magic worlds full of perils and politics and fantastic creatures. I also recommend it if you’re into nuanced YA reading, where characters feel real, make mistakes, suffer consequences, try to mend things and grow as a result.
Can’t wait to read the next one!