At the center of Murphy’s debut novel is a small town shrouded in mystery.
At first, everyone lost their senses of smell, then their reflections, followed by colors and other invaluable aspects of life. In the town of Sterling, something unexpected disappears every seven years, and no one knows why. Seventeen-year-old Aila and her younger brother, Miles, are plunged into the thick of it all when they’re sent to Sterling following their mother’s death. Here, in their mother’s hometown, the two grapple with the secrets she left behind. Guided by her mother’s handwritten annotations in a collection of Shakespeare’s works, Aila makes it her mission to figure out why the Disappearances happen and how they can be stopped. While readers can easily get lost in Aila’s world, nestled within her narrative is a more fascinating storyline in the form of a journal kept by an unknown writer, full of twists and surprises. Murphy’s novel is delightfully whimsical and unsettling but loses some momentum with a tenuous Shakespeare connection. Set in rural Connecticut in 1942, the novel features a cast of white characters.
While there are a few snags in the storytelling, overall, a story bursting with color and originality. (Historical suspense. 12-18)