The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone


Product Details

Algonquin Books
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.1 X 0.7 inches | 0.55 pounds

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About the Author

Felicity McLean is an author and journalist. She has ghostwritten six books, most recently Body Lengths, co-written with Olympian Leisel Jones, which was awarded Apple iBooks' 'Best Biography' and a Reader's Choice Award at the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA).

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is her debut novel.


"Suspenseful and haunting."

"If there's a more compelling summer book description than 'The Virgin Suicides-meets-Picnic at Hanging Rock, ' I don't know what it would be. Such was the description given to me about this book, and it doesn't disappoint."
--Nylon, Best Books of Summer

"One part mystery, one million parts amazing, this debut from Felicity McLean will be a summer fave."
--Cosmopolitan, Best Books of June

"This brand-new debut novel by Felicity McLean has all of the ingredients of a perfect summer beach read and is one of the most anticipated books to read in 2019: it's a beautifully written, scenic thriller that's at once comical and darkly terrifying."
--Readers Digest, Best Books of Summer

"Suffused with the same tantalizing intensity as Picnic at Hanging Rock, it's the time-slip narrative of three sisters who went missing in the summer of 1992 . . . readers who enjoy something haunting, atmospheric and genuinely mysterious have a treat in store."
--The Guardian

"McLean peels back the layers of one scorching Australian summer, revealing the dark secrets and lies hidden behind the cheerful facade of suburbia. This debut, part coming-of-age story and part crime thriller, is both forceful and unnerving."
--Publishers Weekly

"The story is a compelling one, with a nice layer of suspense that keeps the pages turning until its hauntingly melancholy end."

"A wry, sad coming-of-age story and a well-crafted first novel."
--Kirkus Reviews

"This debut coming-of-age mystery is a haunting story of bewilderment and lost innocence . . . The news stories and descriptions evoke 1990s Australia in this engrossing, atmospheric debut. Fans of William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace may want to try."
--Library Journal, starred review

"Dashed with the appeal of The Virgin Suicides and Picnic at Hanging Rock, this tense coming-of-age story recounts the mysterious disappearance of three sisters in a small Australian town."
--Entertainment Weekly

"Containing summer friendships, whispered secrets, and a dark, hidden truth, Felicity McLean's The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is poignant and jarring . . . a blazingly well-written, impressive, and deeply satisfying thriller."
--Foreword Reviews, starred review

"The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is a well-layered puzzle with unexplained pieces to spare. At the core of this gripping debut novel are the uncertain perceptions of young Tikka and 2012 Tikka, still partially trapped in her 11-year-old self. McLean's often striking prose swirls deftly between the two Tikkas as suspicions begin to emerge--about the Van Apfels and their violently pious patriarch, Cordie's broken arm, and the school's first male teacher. A slow burn that maintains an electric current of dread, the narrative is also cleverly colored by the underpinning of the infamous Chamberlain case. Although more than 30 years later it was confirmed that Lindy Chamberlain's baby was indeed snatched by a dingo, the Van Apfel girls may get no such closure."
--Shelf Awareness, starred review

"An intriguing, charge-ahead work with real pathos at its center."
--Library Journal

"Where McLean shines, and where the real strength of the book lies, is in her pitch-perfect character development and creation of a sense of place. The setting of Australia is a character in and of itself, and McLean immerses her readers in it seamlessly and beautifully; you can practically feel the sun beating down on you and smell the stench wafting up from the river through the gully as you read. At the same time, the dialogue between the young girls is delightful . . . Equal parts The Virgin Suicides and Picnic at Hanging Rock, with a ton of Australian personality thrown in, McLean's debut novel is sharp, endearing and unforgettable."

"McLean weaves a hypnotic story that gives off its own sort of magic as it reveals the darkness that often lies just beneath the mundanity of everyday life. This one is a must-read and marks the author as one to watch."
--Criminal Element

"The story of the missing Van Apfel girls examines where responsibility lies when one is caught between doubt and certainty. Or, as Tikka reflects: 'I was responsible and not guilty. I was both things, and neither. Like the valley: a thing and a void.' "
--The Washington Independent Review of Books

"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."
--Books+Publishing (Australia)

"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