The Virgin Suicides meets Picnic at Hanging Rock in this stunning international debut.
“A smart, classy thriller that blazes with the heat of Australia and slowly reveals its many layers.” —Fiona Mozley, author of Man Booker Prize finalist Elmet
“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.”
Tikka Malloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long hot summer of 1992, living in an Australian suburb with her sister and their three best friends. 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, of the summer that left her frozen in the past, of the girls that she never forgot.
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.
“I deeply admire the languid, lived-in prose of Felicity McLean’s lovely novel The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone. This is a story as much about forgiving ourselves our own childhoods, as it is about acknowledging and embracing the people we’ve become because of those adolescent (and sometimes life altering) choices.”
—Hannah Pittard, author of Visible Empire
“Engrossing and goosebumpy from start to finish, this novel about three young sisters who vanish all together one night has the chilling feel of true events that are stranger than fiction, and the stuff of nightmares. But the magic of McLean's art is not just her gift for evoking, in almost hallucinogenic detail, her haunted narrator's childhood—a time and place linked to Australia's notorious true-life story of a baby dragged off in the night by a wild animal—but to do so in the most charming and irresistible of narrative voices. The result is a novel that is as delightful as it is terrifying, and just scary good.”
—Tim Johnston, bestselling author of Descent and The Current
“A smart, classy thriller that blazes with the heat of Australia and slowly reveals its many layers.”
—Fiona Mozley, author of Elmet, 2017 Man Booker Prize finalist
“A smart debut. Beautifully atmospheric with its great sense of time and place.”
—Melina Marchetta, author of On the Jellicoe Road
Felicity McLean is an author and journalist. Her writing has appeared in the Good Weekend, the Daily Telegraph, the Big Issue and more. She lives in Australia. This is her first novel.