A dark and atmospheric Aussie mystery set in the 90s.
Tikka Molloy returns to her hometown in the suburbs of Sydney and she can’t help but remember the summer of 1992 when the Van Apfel girls mysteriously disappeared. Tikka was only 11 years old when her neighbours – Cordelia, Ruth, and Hannah – went missing, but the events of that fateful summer still haunt her. Her memories are sharp and vivid, although they are obviously tinged with the naivety of the very young.
Australian readers will appreciate the nostalgic early 1990s setting of the novel and the very Aussie language and colloquialisms. I found the inclusion of the Lindy Chamberlain trial an interesting way to place the novel squarely in that era, although I’m not sure how well I was able to connect it with the events in the novel.
I was caught up in the mystery surrounding the missing Van Apfel Girls and loved the dark and atmospheric writing. The mystery doesn’t get resolved in the end, but I think that suits this story and its dream-like feel.
‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’
So begins Tikka Molloy’s recounting of the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – disappear.
Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney’s urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.
Brilliantly observed, sharp, lively, funny and entirely endearing, this novel is part mystery, part coming-of-age story – and quintessentially Australian. Think The Virgin Suicides meets Jasper Jones meets Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Author: Felicity McLean
Published: April 1st 2019 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia
Read: Paperback, 304 pages, 2019