The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean – Book Review



‘A smart, classy thriller blazing with the heat of Australia that slowly reveals its many layers.’ Fiona Mozley, author of Man Booker shortlisted Elmet

‘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….A novel that is as delightful as it is terrifying, and just scary good.’

Tim Johnston, bestselling author of Descent and The Current

‘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

‘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 The Guilty One

‘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, author of Siracusa

‘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 Molloy was eleven years old during the long hot summer of 1992, growing up in an isolated suburb in Australia surrounded by encroaching bushland. That summer, the hottest on record, was when the Van Apfel sisters – Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – mysteriously disappeared during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river.

Did they run away? Were they taken? While the search for the sisters unites the small community, the mystery of their disappearance has never been solved. Now, years later, Tikka has returned home and is beginning to make sense of that strange moment in time. The summer that shaped her. The girls that she never forgot.

Brilliantly observed, spiky, sharp, funny and unexpectedly endearing, THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE is part mystery, part coming-of-age story – a perfect summer chiller with a dark shimmering unexplained absence at its heart.


What an engrossing, atmospheric read…..the stifling heat practically seeps off the page.

“The day of the school Showstopper –  like every other day – the sky was blue and clear. It had been windy in the night and the she-oaks has shaken off their needles. They lay on the ground like brown entrails we couldn’t read.”

Hannah, Cordelia and Ruth disappear during an outdoor school concert… The girls had been inseparable due to a shared harsh family life with a strict, religious father, who believes a beating is the correct punishment for any perceived misdemeanour…..

When the girls go missing questions are asked…..did they run away from their home life? Or were they taken?

The story has many wonderful characters  some creepy and sinister and some delightful as Tikka looks back on the events around the girls disappearance…the tension is palpable at times as the what ifs, pain, emotions and the feeling of something missing is felt.  There is humour too in this stunning, chilling read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book  in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

You can buy a copy here (click on the image)

About the author


Felicity McLean was born in Sydney Australia. She graduated at Sydney University with a BA in English and Australian literature and worked as a book publicist before embarking on a freelance career. Her journalism has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Courier Mail and the Big Issue, among others, and she has ghost-written celebrity autobiographies. THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE is her first novel. She lives with her English husband and two young children in Australia.

Felicity McLean is available for interview and to write pieces.
Published by POINT BLANK 6 June 2019 Hardback £14.99


4 responses to “The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean – Book Review”

  1. Adding this to my TBR list!


  2. Great review, I really enjoyed this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the blog tour support Lesley x

    Liked by 1 person

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