Review: Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan


27426221Julia Vanishes (The Witch’s Child, #1) by Catherine Egan

Published June 7, 2016, by Knopf Books for Young Readers.

YA > Fantasy


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.

Special thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

I had started this one over a year ago, in the May before its release. Way back then, I had gotten over halfway through the book. But for some reason, I just wasn’t into it. Every chapter was difficult for me to get through, and I wasn’t at all invested in the story. In the months between then and now, I’d heard tons of great things about the book. I was feeling major guilt for not finishing it because I’d gotten an ARC.

So, flash forward to this summer, I decided to give it another try. Needless to say, I was the only problem the first time around. I read Julia Vanishes in just over a day. I started over from the beginning, rereading up to the point I had made it before. I knew my lack of interest before was on me, thanks to two reasons:

  1. I couldn’t remember anything that had happened in the slightest. Yes, it was over a year ago that I’d read it, but I have a pretty good memory when it comes to books. It should’ve at least sounded familiar, which it did not.
  2. I devoured more than half the book in mere hours. This time I was so interested in the characters, the story, the magic, everything!

In retrospect, last summer I barely read anything. I don’t think I was in the mood to, with heading off to college and anxiety surrounding all of that. This was totally an “it’s not you, it’s me” situation.

ANYWAY, now that I’ve established that I was the issue here, not this lovely book, I’m going to start properly reviewing it!

  • Everything about this book so well crafted. From the writing to the story, to the characters, to the magic, I was completely immersed in this world, and invested in the characters.
  • Julia was such a fierce main character. I instantly loved her. It was great seeing her navigate through her two drastically different lives, but remain the same fiery girl no matter her persona.
  • The worldbuilding is also fantastic. I was itching to learn more about its history, and all of the magical creatures that reside in it. There are witches, yes, but there are also many others. I loved how detailed the history that we did get, and I can’t wait to see it expand throughout the series.
  • Not only is there magic and mystery, but there’s also a ton of intrigue! You all know I’m a sucker for intrigue! Julia being a spy and a thief, it’s plentiful in this book.
  • While this is a slower paced read until the end, the story never lacks excitement. I sped through this, wanting to learn the secrets right along with Julia. The ending was also so action-packed!

I’m really looking forward to continuing on with this series. I’m so happy that I gave it a second chance when I was in the right state of mind because I can see this becoming one of my favorite fantasy series. I’ve heard from other reviewers that the sequel gets even better, so I’m itching to read it!

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