Saturday, May 28, 2016

Julia Vanishes

Julia vanishes sometimes. She isn't invisible, but she hides just outside of people's perception and can remain there for hours. It's especially useful when doing her job, which is various types of small crime and cons. Her current job is to infiltrate the house of a wealthy woman named Mrs. Och, snoop around, and report anything of note for a large amount of money. Unfortunately this involves pretending to be a maid and actually doing the job and having the demeanor of one as well. Not glamorous. When Julia starts to uncover weird things like a man locked in the basement and a woman clearly in hiding, her employer reveals themselves to be more nefarious than she thought. Julia doubts her whole mode of being, usually doing anything for the job. How far is too far?

Julia Vanishes has a lot going for it. The world is interesting with fantasy mixed with some dystopia in addition to Victorian sensibilities. Witches are real and feared. Their spells are cast through writing. Their main weakness is water and are unaffected by fire, which is an interesting twist from our own history with witches. The current regime wants complete annihilation of witches because of their capacity for violence and the propaganda spread that they don't have souls. Execution by drowning takes place every month like clockwork. Julia has seen every single one in memory of her mother who was executed years ago.

Julia seems like a hard character, long living a life of small crime, but she discovers vulnerable spots as the book goes on. She's in love with a cad who doesn't take their relationship as seriously as she does. She finds her facade cracking the stakes are revealed for a current job that she can't bring herself to do without significant duress. When she makes mistakes, she goes above and beyond to correct them. Her entire world view changes by the end of the book. She sees that so many things are worth more than some money and to value the relationships she has. I grew to like her over time. I especially enjoyed that a character who worked for her employer revealed herself to be a possibility for Julia. This woman was hard and willing to do whatever it takes for the job including murdering innocents. Julia chooses to do the opposite when she sees where she was headed. Julia proved to be stubborn and strong with a good heart in the end.

Julia Vanishes is the first book in a trilogy that proves to be promising. I liked the fantastical mixed with the Victorian. I hope Egan goes into more detail how the society ended up like it is. I enjoyed many of the relationships in it, both romantic and platonic. I look forward to the next book.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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