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ARC Book Review: ‘The Disappearance’ by Katherine Webb

Title: The Disappearance

Author: Katherine Webb

Length: 377 pages

Publisher: Orion Books


I’m a huge fan of Katherine Webb’s. I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long time. Will it live up to my expectations?

When Frances’s best friend, Bronwyn, disappeared over twenty years ago, her body was never found. And in that moment Frances’s life changed forever. Now it’s 1943 and bombs are raining down in Bath. In the chaos a little boy goes missing. Frances was meant to be looking out for him and she is tortured by guilt at his disappearance. Where has he gone, and is there any chance he could have survived. Bombs conceal, but they can also reveal – as quiet falls and the dust settles, a body is disturbed from its hiding place. What happened to Bronwyn all those years ago? And can Frances ever put right the wrongs of the past…?

‘What should I do? What can I do?’ Frances begged her. Pam shook her head. ‘Oh I’m afraid you can’t do a damn thing, my darling. Unbearable things don’t magically go away because we can’t beat them. Believe me, I know.’ She smiled, sadly. ‘But you’ll carry on, and you’ll survive it, because there’s no alternative.

In the first chapter of ‘The Disappearance’ we meet Frances, who becomes our main protagonist. This book is action packed from the beginning, when Frances gets stuck outside in the air raid and the story really takes off from there. During this air raid she loses the little boy, Davy, she was looking after and it soon becomes her mission to find him.

The story is set in two different times, 1942 and 1918. 1942, is when Frances is trying to find Davy and trying to uncover the truth of what happened to Wyn, whilst 1918 is the story of Frances’s childhood and the events leading up to Wyn’s disappearance. With each part being so intriguing, I found myself loving both. When Frances remembered something in 1942, the story would go back to 1918 and it just worked perfectly. Katherine blends the times together seamlessly.

Frances is such a likeable character. I connected with her instantly, she’s so engaging. Katherine writes her so well, you can’t help but feel for her. You can feel the tension in her, what losing Wyn has done to her. You can feel the guilt over losing Davy. You go on such a journey with Frances, often not knowing how it’s going to end, and it’s so enjoyable. Also side note, I absolutely loved the character of Pam. I could read a book all about her.

Every book Katherine writes is so wonderful. ‘The Disappearance’ has a real element of mystery. In this case, two mysteries. What happened to Wyn, and did Davy survive? Katherine is a master at writing mystery. Both mysteries in ‘The Disappearance’ are written so intelligently, it kept me hooked until the last page. I just didn’t know how it was going to end.

Let’s talk about the ending. I was on edge of my seat. I couldn’t read quick enough, turn the pages fast enough. It was such a clever ending. I had my suspicions and I was totally wrong. There’s always a twist to Katherines books, and I never guess right. Not one time. I mean, that’s a sign of fantastic writing. Another book of Katherine’s ‘The Hiding Places’ has a shocking twist like this one. Check out that book and review here.

This book is so atmospheric. All of Katherines books are, they really take you back in time. It’s the descriptions of the village, they are vivid and detailed. It just makes so engrossed in the book. When Katherine writes about the line of people trying to get out of the village, with all their belongings, following the second night of bombings. It just broke my heart, all those people trying to get to safety, scared of what the night will bring. You can feel the effects of war in the village. Katherine somehow makes you feel for the place and time, not just characters. It’s such a testament to Katherine’s writing. ‘The Disappearance’ is so well reaserched. It’s the little details, that make this book shines. Katherine is one of the historical fiction writers out there.

‘A stream of people were walking up Holloway in silence. They carried their children on their hips, and suitcases, bundles of clothing and blankets; some were struggling to push loaded prams and handcarts up the hill. Old and young, men and women, slack faces and unbrushed hair. A strange, quiet procession of the scared and dispossessed, trudging out of the city.’

Well, as I’m sure you can tell I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s wonderful. If you love historical fiction, mystery and romance you’ll love this book. Even if you don’t love these things, still read it. It’s just that good.

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this book from Katherine herself. She did not do the this for me to review, I have decided do it myself. This was a honest, unbiased review. I’m just a huge fan. This book is out today! Check it out.

Until the next review


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