Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Ten-year-old Pia is known as the girl whose grandmother exploded at the family Advent dinner. Hoping to redeem herself, she and her outcast friend StinkStefan attempt to find out who, or what, is behind the dis-appearance of little girls in their sleepy German town of Bad Munstereifel. While their elderly friend Herr Schiller terrifies them with ghoulish, fantastical local histories by day, the children go sleuthing by night. Narrator Justine Eyre perfectly renders Pia, whose feisty imagination is a force to be reckoned with. Erie, creepy, and filled with folkloric, Grimm-style touches, Grant's debut novel is not to be missed. Recommended especially for fans of Chevy Stevens's Still Missing and Gail Giles's Dead Girls Don't Write Letters. [The Delacorte hc was described as "a meeting of Harriet the Spy and The Lovely Bones with a dash of Grimm thrown in," LJ 6/15/10.-Ed.]-Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
It may seem strange to describe Grant's debut as a charming horror novel, but there's a determined amiableness about the narrative that will appeal to readers who wouldn't typically be drawn to such subject matter. It's December 1998, and 10-year-old Pia Kolvenbach and her family are living happily in the quaint German town where her father grew up, until Pia's grandmother accidentally sets herself on fire and burns to death. A rumor erupts that her grandmother exploded, and, overnight, Pia becomes an outcast. Her only friend from then on is the most unpopular boy in her class, nicknamed StinkStefan. The two of them begin visiting an elderly man who entertains them with ghost stories from local folklore that Pia and StinkStefan hope might help them solve the decades-old mystery of a number of local girls who have gone missing. The story's richness isn't as much in the mystery plot as it is in the finely rendered background, where desperate parents strive to protect their children in an uncertain world, though the simplicity of the narration makes the novel feel lighter than probably intended. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Ten-year-old Pia, who lives in the quaint German village of Bad Münstereifel, is having an especially difficult year in school. Ever since the gruesomely freakish accident that claimed her grandmother's life, she has been unmercifully teased by her classmates. Forced to socialize with the other school outcast, StinkStefan, Pia is only able to forget her troubles when their kindly neighbor, Herr Schiller, invites them over for hot chocolate and beguiles them with ghost stories. When young girls start disappearing from their small town, many parents become hysterical, but Pia and Stefan decide to find out who has taken them. This is the rare debut novel that offers both excellent writing and deft plotting as the young protagonists, unmindful of just how dangerous the world can be, take all kinds of risks to ferret out the kidnapper. For them, it's one big glorious adventure, and their perceptive and often comical takes on the baffling ways of adults add a whole other layer to the central mystery. With a truly terrifying finale, this is a well-crafted, suspenseful blend of literary thriller and coming-of-age story.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Grimm and grimmer fairy tale meets terror in a small German town where girls are being abducted again as they were 50 years ago.English author Grant's loosely plotted debut opens in Teutonic tragi-comic fashion as the narrator's grandmother, wreathed in hairspray and close to a naked flame, explodes at the dinner table. But domestic horror is only one facet of a story that also includes traditional folk tales, a vision of a gossipy, vaguely malevolent local community, children in peril and the ordinary trials of unpopular, ten-year-old Pia. Daughter of a British mother and German father who bicker constantly, Pia is ostracized at school, her only friend a boy named StinkStefan. When first Katharina Linden and then other girls go missing, Pia begins to ask questions, discovering that some girls also disappeared just after the war, including Gertrud, the daughter of her elderly friend Herr Schiller, whose sinister brother Herr Dster is suspected of blame. More girls disappear, Pia's parents decide to separate and Dster falls under suspicion again, leading to Pia and Stefan's decision to break into his house. The implausible denouement is composed of an interminable sequence of scares and spooks.Atmospheric moments punctuate a story marked by uncertainties of pace and logic which, despite gruesome content, is probably intended for younger readers.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.