Saturday, July 23, 2022

#BookReview: Julia Vanishes (Witch's Child #1) by Catherine Egan

Synopsis: 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.


Rating: 3 Stars
My Review: This was an interesting take on witches and magic but I just couldn't get really into the story. I don't think I will be continuing the story as it just wasn't for me. 

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up—Julia has a unique talent. She can go unnoticed by people when she wants, which is a great ability for a thief and a spy. Julia's current assignment is to spy on the lavish Mrs. Och's home and report any strange or unusual activities and visitors. Julia finds plenty. First, there's Mr. Darius, a boarder living in the basement behind a steel door that locks from the outside. Second, it seems that Mrs. Och helps witches escape the Cleansing, a ritual in which they are publicly drowned. The teen uses her gift to find out these secrets without knowing for whom she is spying. So when her mission changes, Julia wants to refuse. But she can't, because she will be killed if she does not follow through. The protagonist doesn't know whom to trust and whether she should involve the people she considers family. Told from the main character's point of view, the story starts slowly but builds quickly and keeps readers engaged. Teens will experience the emotions and actions as the narrator travels around her world and is betrayed again and again. This reads like a steampunk novel with some advanced technology and takes place in a mostly Victorian world. There are references to drinking and sex, although they are handled with a light touch. The story ends with a cliff-hanger. VERDICT Recommend to fans of light fantasy and character-driven narratives.—Natalie Struecker, Atlantic Public Library, IA


"The first book in the Witch's Child trilogy has adventure, murder, romance, intrigue, and betrayal with a 16-year-old heroine that is both fierce and flawed at the same time. Catherine Egan is an exciting new talent." —

"Egan's debut novel sparkles. A beautifully rendered world and exquisite sense of timing ensure a page-turning experience." —
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Readers will find themselves immediately immersed in the narrative and invested in the fate of Julia, who is both feisty and flawed. There is a richness to this inaugural volume of the Witch’s Child trilogy, and readers will be hard pressed to put it down." —
Booklist starred review

"Julia's a wonderful, fully realized heroine with moral dilemmas aplenty. For those readers waiting for the sequel to Marie Lu's 
The Rose Society, a well-realized page-turner in the same vein." —Kirkus Reviews

"A fast-paced, deftly written fantasy with a complex and memorable protagonist. I can’t wait for the next installment!" —Juliet Marillier, author of 
Wildwood Dancing

"Julia's complexities fascinate. In the suspenseful, action-packed debut of the Witch's Child trilogy, Catherine Egan spins out a dark and deep world of magic and crime." —Shelf Awareness

"Following Julia and her comrades makes for a tricky, frightening, relentlessly exciting adventure colored with moral ambiguity and magical intrigue." —The Horn Book Magazine

"This is a great choice for true fantasy lovers. The worldbuilding is exceptionally done. A truly outstanding first book in what is sure to be a sought-after series."--VOYA

"Right from the start, it’s nearly impossible to put this book down. Equally difficult is pinning down its genre, as it has elements of fantasy, mystery, romance, action, and adventure—there’s even a search for a serial killer. Egan’s world-building is as richly realized as her characters. Julia’s home of Spira City, a world of ritual cleansings, witch drownings, and religious power struggles, resembles medieval Europe; Julia is feisty, fierce and believably flawed, and her many dilemmas and difficult moral choices add real depth to an already-suspenseful plot.  Happily, this is the first of a series, called The Witch’s Child, and there are more adventures to come." -- Lynn Rutan, The Booklist Reader

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