“ONE PART MYSTERY, ONE MILLION PARTS AMAZING.”
A Recommended Summer Read from Entertainment Weekly * Bustle * Nylon * Cosmopolitan
"How do you escape your childhood, emotionally, actually? This compelling mystery has a rare depth of psychological and emotional truth. It will engage your heart.” —Delia Ephron, New York Times bestselling author of Siracusa
Tikka Malloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long, hot, Australian summer of 1992. The TV news in the background chattered with debate about the exoneration of Lindy (“dingo took my baby”) Chamberlain. That summer was when the Van Apfel sisters--Ruth, Hannah, and the beautiful Cordelia--mysteriously disappeared. Did they just run far away from their harsh, evangelical parents, or were they taken? While the search for the girls united the small community, the mystery of their disappearance was never solved, and Tikka and her older sister, Laura, have been haunted ever since by the loss of their friends and playmates.
Now, years later, Tikka has returned home to try to make sense of that strange moment in time.
Part mystery, part darkly comic coming-of-age story, The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone
is a page-turning read--with a dark, shimmering absence at its heart.
“Suspenseful and haunting.”
“If there's a more compelling summer book description than ‘The Virgin Suicides-meets-Picnic at Hanging Rock,’ I don't know what it would be. Such was the description given to me about this book, and it doesn't disappoint.”
—Nylon, Best Books of Summer
“One part mystery, one million parts amazing, this debut from Felicity McLean will be a summer fave.”
—Cosmopolitan, Best Books of June
“This brand-new debut novel by Felicity McLean has all of the ingredients of a perfect summer beach read and is one of the most anticipated books to read in 2019: it’s a beautifully written, scenic thriller that’s at once comical and darkly terrifying.”
—Readers Digest, Best Books of Summer
“Suffused with the same tantalizing intensity as Picnic at Hanging Rock, it’s the time-slip narrative of three sisters who went missing in the summer of 1992 . . . readers who enjoy something haunting, atmospheric and genuinely mysterious have a treat in store.”
“McLean peels back the layers of one scorching Australian summer, revealing the dark secrets and lies hidden behind the cheerful facade of suburbia. This debut, part coming-of-age story and part crime thriller, is both forceful and unnerving.”
“The story is a compelling one, with a nice layer of suspense that keeps the pages turning until its hauntingly melancholy end.”
“A wry, sad coming-of-age story and a well-crafted first novel.”
“This debut coming-of-age mystery is a haunting story of bewilderment and lost innocence . . . The news stories and descriptions evoke 1990s Australia in this engrossing, atmospheric debut. Fans of William Kent Krueger’s Ordinary Grace may want to try.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“Dashed with the appeal of The Virgin Suicides and Picnic at Hanging Rock, this tense coming-of-age story recounts the mysterious disappearance of three sisters in a small Australian town.”
“Containing summer friendships, whispered secrets, and a dark, hidden truth, Felicity McLean’s The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is poignant and jarring . . . a blazingly well-written, impressive, and deeply satisfying thriller.”
—Foreword Reviews, starred review
“The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is a well-layered puzzle with unexplained pieces to spare. At the core of this gripping debut novel are the uncertain perceptions of young Tikka and 2012 Tikka, still partially trapped in her 11-year-old self. McLean's often striking prose swirls deftly between the two Tikkas as suspicions begin to emerge—about the Van Apfels and their violently pious patriarch, Cordie's broken arm, and the school's first male teacher. A slow burn that maintains an electric current of dread, the narrative is also cleverly colored by the underpinning of the infamous Chamberlain case. Although more than 30 years later it was confirmed that Lindy Chamberlain's baby was indeed snatched by a dingo, the Van Apfel girls may get no such closure.”
—Shelf Awareness, starred review
“An intriguing, charge-ahead work with real pathos at its center.”
“Where McLean shines, and where the real strength of the book lies, is in her pitch-p
Felicity McLean is an author and journalist. Her writing has appeared in major newspapers and magazines, and she has ghostwritten six books. She lives in Australia. This is her first novel.