Earlier today, author Catherine Egan was kind enough to stop by with a fabulous guest post about where the idea for her latest, Julia Vanishes, can be traced to. As promised in that post, I'm following up now with my own review of this fantastic and witchy summer read!
Julia is not just any ordinary girl. Orphaned at a young age, she and her brother were taken in by a family of thieves for hire and trained to be part of their group. Now, both Julia and her brother, Dex, use their talents to earn money in less than honest, but certainly profitable, ways.
Julia's current assignment is a post in the home of one Mrs. Ochs. As Ella, Julia toils away as a maid, given almost free reign of Mrs. Ochs's house. Which is good considering her client wants to know all the ins and outs of the home and the secrets its tenants are keeping. And those secrets, as Julia soon learns, are many. But who is her client and what is their end goal? And is it really in Julia's best interests to complete the job at hand?
Julia is a thief and a spy, one whose talents are singular when you consider she has the ability to make herself unseen. Not invisible exactly, and it's a power that eludes her amongst certain people - like her current employer Mrs. Ochs -, but it's an ability that does certainly help with her chosen occupation.
Of course in this world, one fraught with fear of magic and witches, it's paramount that Julia keep her ability an absolute secret. To be discovered could mean suffering the same fate as her mother, a convicted witch killed before Julia's very eyes.
Egan's created world is quite fantastic: an alternate France ruled by a king determined to weed out all of the witches in his lands. It's a dangerous time for magic and those so inclined. The witches in question can't burn and set their spells by writing them, which also means that the ability to read and write is something of a danger itself - Julia speaks of witches discovered by accident as they learned to write!
There is, as the officially synopsis (on today's earlier post) states, a subplot concerning a serial killer. A killer searching for something that could in reality be very close indeed to Julia's current position. Julia quickly becomes aware of this as she traces the killer's path of victims straight to Mrs. Ochs's newest boarder. And because we're given a glimpse inside the killer's world, we the reader know that the killer's intent is quite specific. And that the killer won't let anyone stand in the way of their goal.
Julia Vanishes is a bit of a spellbinding read, if you will. The world is so unique, Julia is likable and ballsy, and the plot is - if you hadn't noticed - quite intriguing: witches, magic, witch hunts, and murder... who can resist a well drawn plot with those elements? Certainly not this reader!