Arcadia Falls: 08/26/11
Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman was recommended to me by the blog, A Life in Books. The review compares it to the gothic romance novels of Barbara Michaels and I was intrigued.
Meg Rosenthal, recently widowed, and her teenage daughter move to Arcadia Falls, where she will be teaching at a boarding school that was once an artists' commune. She is also there to finalize the research on her thesis as the school will be a source of primary sources.
Shortly after arriving one of the students falls to her death during a night time event. Her death brings to light unusual similarities with the death of one of the school's founders, Lily. Fortunately for us, Meg has found the Lily's long lost diary and can compare the recorded history with Lily's version of events leading to her death.
To further complicate things, Goodman tosses in long passages of a fairy tale written at the school. It's supposed to set the Gothic mood of the novel and give clues to mysteries at hand but it didn't work for me. It read like a whole pile of filler instead of being a meaningful contribution to the novel.
Lily's story ended up being the most realistic and compelling piece of the novel. Meg is too scatter brained and passive to count as a convincing lead character. Even when she's worried about her daughter's safety, she can't manage to act decisively. She's tossed up again a pair of villains with ties to the older mystery who are constructed out of nothing but cliches that the ending is laughable. What Arcadia Falls needed was a twist ending so that everything was actually in Meg's mind.
Comment #1: Monday, August, 29, 2011 at 14:33:40
I tried to read this, but it seemed too just drag for me. I DNF it, even though I tried really hard to! Great review :)
Comment #2: Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 22:45:43
You didn't miss much by not finishing it.