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Inhaltsangabe: Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, Helen Grant's first teen novel The Vanishing of Katharina Linden follows a misfit teenager as she attempts to unravel the mystery of several strange disappearances in the small town of Bad Münstereifel. The Vanishing of Katharina Linden bridges the world of the traditional Grimm fairytale with the darker world of Angela Carter's adult fairytales. On the day Katharina Linden disappears, Pia is the last person to see her. Terror is spreading through the town. How could a ten-year-old girl vanish in a place where everybody knows everybody else? Pia is determined to find out what happened to Katharina. But then the next girl disappears. . . 'For something so chilling, it is terrific entertainment' Sunday Times 'Grant's splendid debut...is a feast of treats and creeps. Wonderful' Guardian 'A strange, haunting modern fairy tale' John Connolly, author of The Book of Lost Things The setting of the small German town of Bad Münstereifel, in Helen Grant's debut novel The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, is based on her own experience of emigrating there from England as a child. Her other darkly thrilling young adult novels, The Glass Demon and Wish Me Dead, are also available from Penguin.
Review: Helen Grant on The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
I’m often asked “What inspired you to write The Vanishing of Katharina Linden?” I never get tired of this particular question, because it’s a subject that lies very close to my heart. The book was inspired by the little town of Bad Münstereifel in Germany. It’s the setting of The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, and it’s not a fictional place-–it’s a real town, and we lived there for seven wonderful years.
When we moved to Bad Münstereifel in 2001 my husband was anxious that I would be bored. “You can walk from one end of the town to the other in about two minutes,” he said. Actually I found Bad Münstereifel the most fascinating place. It is like stepping into the past. There are cobbled streets and old half-timbered houses, beautiful old churches and creepy castles. I’ve always loved folk tales and legends, and Bad Münstereifel has lots of those. The stories which Herr Schiller tells to Pia (the heroine) in the book are all genuine Bad Münstereifel folk tales. They were collected and published around 1910 by a local priest called Father Krause. I came across some of the stories in anthologies and went to read the originals at a library in Düren. They were written in old-fashioned German and printed in the Gothic type that was very popular in Germany at that time, which made it extremely difficult to read them! But I persevered because it was such an amazing journey of discovery for me. There was one particular character who really stood out, and that was “Unshockable Hans”, the miller who was not afraid of anything, even witches and ghosts. There are a number of stories about him. He seemed to represent the spirit of the town–-forthright, God-fearing and intrepid. I wanted him to be a central character in my book. I liked the idea that the heroine, Pia, would be inspired by his bravery to do her own investigations into the disappearances in her home town.
People sometimes ask me about the ending of the book, as it isn’t entirely a happy one for Pia, given her family situation. I think this reflects my own feelings about having to leave Bad Münstereifel. I loved living there so much, but I always knew that one day we would have to leave. That sadness is part of my love for the town, and Pia’s too. I’d like to think that The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is a memorial to a wonderful place and time in my life.
(Photo © Gordon Grant and William Bond)
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