Helen Grant’s debut novel depicts the experiences of her life in Germany having lived in England. She adds them into a tale of mystery and foreboding as the quaint village of Bad Münstereifel is hit with shocking tragedy as a few of the young girls of the town are abducted. Pia Kolvenbach is the last person to see Katharina before she disappears and feels responsible for finding the source of the kidnapping. Suffering from social pressures as her classmates taunt her about the unfortunate demise of her grandmother, Pia finds refuge in the unlikely source of the least popular boy in the school, Stefan. With his unquenchable thirst for adventure, Stefan joins Pia in her quest to discover the elusive threat that manages to steal from a place where you recognise every person that passes in the street. As they begin their mission, what began as more of a game becomes stark reality when a second girl vanishes without a sign. Can Pia and Stefan unravel the mystery or are they next on the attacker’s list. Helen Grant’s first novel contains a great idea that will breach a new area of the children’s market. Despite a tough beginning, the latter stages of the novel live up to the expectations of a bestseller as unpredictability and tension are brought into the story. The moral issues and strong language (although it is mostly in German) manage to push up the recommended age band for this book and drop it on the line between older children and teenage books. It is a book that would appeal to those who enjoy suspense and are strong readers who are willing to wait and build towards a climax. This is a great first effort from Helen Grant.
By Douglas, 15