The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy – Spoiler Free Review (ARC)

Title: The Disappearances
Author: Emily Bain Murphy
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 4th 2017
Rating: 4/5 stars

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

**Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are not biased towards the publisher and/or author.**

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.

— Blurb courtesy of

28556709Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

My Review

I knew I was going to enjoy this book! I didn’t really know much going into it other than it is a YA mystery novel about a girl in a town where things disappear. I didn’t know it was going to be a whirlwind of a journey with Shakespeare, friendship and family issues.


  • The suspense made me keep turning pages! If you’re looking for a novel that will make you want to keep reading, then The Disappearances is that novel. Because this novel is written in two POVs that eventually link up at the end, the audience is always kept on their toes with multiple cliffhangers and a few unexpected turns.
  • The strong friendship that was formed. Aila befriends smart and nice guy George and musically talented Beas when she moves to Sterling. Aila and George have a really good relationship that I was SUPER nervous that it would be ruined by one of them confessing they like the other, but luckily that didn’t happen!! They remained friends throughout the entire novel and he was always there for her when she needed him, and same vice versa. Beas and Aila also have a strong relationship. They both get each other and by the end of the novel, these two girls would do almost anything for each other. The trio make a great team and they were fun to read about.
  • The way the mystery was slotted in. I’m going to be careful to not give spoilers because I want you to read this with the full experience! But the way Murphy embedded clues and false-clues, and how she wrapped everything up neatly was really well done. For a debut novel, I’m thoroughly impressed! I found myself linking things together in my head and making up conspiracy theories, though my theories were never correct. Emily Bain Murphy did an outstanding job at writing this novel.
  • The smart and interesting ties to Shakespeare. I had no idea Shakespeare and literature were going to be major themes and motifs in this novel. I don’t want to say anything else except for that if you like novels where the author ties pieces of literature to the mystery, then PICK UP THIS BOOK.
  • Murphy’s writing style was superb! I enjoyed reading her work and it flowed nicely. There were a few sentences that were phrased oddly, but this was an ARC version, so I’ll let it slide.
  • The world building and magical realism. I don’t read a lot of magical realism novels, but I think now I’ll keep an eye out for some good ones because I loved the elements of magic in this novel. The world building was done excellently, and I really felt immersed in the town of Sterling.



  • At first, the romance felt a bit forced. However, I did enjoy Aila and Will’s relationship in the end, the beginning of their romantic relationship felt unnecessary to me. But I am a sucker for romance and will most likely enjoy it either way.
  • The conclusion was rushed. They only figured out the mystery in the last 50-100 pages and I thought the author left everything to the last minute. Although things did wrap up nicely, I would’ve liked a more in depth….explanation, I guess?
  • Italics. I think this was a personal problem, but if you don’t enjoy reading in italics, then you’ve been warned! The second POV is written entirely in italics and I just didn’t understand why it had to be like that. I don’t know; it was just a little thing that slightly bugged me.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery, enjoys magical realism and/or really great characters.


Have you read The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy? Do we share any similar pros or cons? What are some of your magical realism recommendations? Tell me in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy – Spoiler Free Review (ARC)

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