The Disappearance of Emily Down

The Disappearance of Emily Down
Age Range
Release Date
September 30, 2021
A riveting, action-packed sci-fi thriller about a young girl on a mission to rescue her best friend, from C.J. Redwine, the New York Times best-selling author of The Shadow Queen.

There are three rules in Black River Falls: 

  1. Don’t break curfew unless you want the monsters to find you. 
  2. Don’t ask questions, no matter what. 
  3. When someone goes missing, don’t go looking. 
Joey Barnes obeyed those rules, until the day her mother vanished without a trace. She’s spent two years secretly hunting for clues, and she’s discovered plenty of things that don’t make sense, even for Black River Falls. Like the fact that Harrison Pelt keeps a chest full of weapons under a loose floorboard in his porch. Or that there’s a steel door hidden behind a shelf of old books in the library. She's become so good at snooping, she’s found enough strange facts to fill up her favorite purple journal. What she hasn’t found is her mother.

When her best friend, Emily, goes missing, too, and the grown-ups seem ready to accept it, Joey decides enough is enough. Relying on unlikely friendships and a streak of stubbornness, Joey is determined to find her friend, solve the mystery that plagues Black River Falls, and, if she’s lucky, find her mother, too. 

That is, if the monsters don’t find her first. 

Editor review

1 review
Great Atmospheric Read
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
The setting was believable and led to a great atmospheric read where the spookiness and my curiosity kept mounting to the action-packed ending. Set in the hills of Tennessee, Joey Barnes lives in a small isolated town walled off due to the potential threat of monsters. Tourists come to visit the town and if someone occasionally goes missing, like in the case of Joey’s mother 2 years before, it is policy not to go after them.
The trauma of being gaslighted that her mother abandoned her, has made Joey observant, suspicious, and determined to uncover the truth. She keeps a journal of the things adults tell her, including her father, that do not add up. There are so many questions that I had as a reader that compelled me to keep listening and try to predict what the big reveal was going to be. If Joey’s town in modern times is known for monsters, then why aren’t other towns also having trouble? I wanted the backstory for this town’s history to be fleshed out, but you must wait until the end to start to understand. If we had known earlier it would have ruined the spooky feeling, so I forgive the constant curiosity that CJ Redwine built to a high heat until the end.
I was impressed with the level of detail in this book. Redwine does an excellent job of establishing Joey’s character as a believable twelve-year-old. Some Middle-Grade authors have characters with leaps in knowledge or ability that aid the hero. In this book, each step toward the truth is built action upon action from Joey’s determination to save her friend. The point that the details struck me was when Joey’s hand accidentally brushes past her father’s toothbrush as she is putting hers away, and discovers it dry, leading her to know something happened and her dad did not come home the night before. That scene impressed me with how it advanced the plot while being such a mundane and relatable action.
This book is only available from Amazon Audible which has pros and cons to this restriction. I like to have access to the print and digital format of a book because I can read faster than a presenter and when the book interests me, I want to devour it. The narrator for the audible book did a fantastic job but I was limited to the times I could listen making the book take longer to read than I prefer.
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