"How do you escape your childhood, emotionally, actually? This compelling mystery has a rare depth of psychological and emotional truth. It will engage your heart.” --Delia Ephron, New York Times bestselling author of Siracusa
Tikka Malloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long, hot, Australian summer of 1992. 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.
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.
“A wry, sad coming-of-age story and a well-crafted first novel.”
“A taut, beautifully written thriller with a scorching expansive setting. The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is a fantastic debut and a story that lingers.”
—Lisa Ballantyne, author of Everything She Forgot
“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
"McLean expertly maintains an air of suspense as the tragedy unfolds. Tikka is an unforgettable, if not entirely reliable, narrator full of black humour, brutal honesty and naive curiosity. This novel is one that will haunt readers long after they have turned the last page.”
“How do you escape your childhood, emotionally, actually? This compelling mystery by Felicity McLean has a rare depth of psychological and emotional truth. It will engage your heart.”
—Delia Ephron, New York Times bestselling author of Siracusa
Felicity McLean is an author and journalist. Her writing has appeared in major newspapers and magazines, and she has ghostwritten six books. She lives in Australia. This is her first novel.