Published by Spiegel & Grau on August 9th 2016
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A dark, gripping novel from the author of The Weight of Blood about a mysterious kidnapping and the ways in which our lives are shaped by the stories we create about our past
Arrowood is the most ornate and beautiful of the grand historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa, where the days are long and humid and communities are small and closed. It has its own secrets and ghostly presence: It’s where Arden’s young twin sisters were abducted nearly twenty years ago—never to be seen again. Now, Arden has inherited Arrowood, and she returns to her childhood home determined to establish what really happened that traumatic summer. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close—and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.
I don’t read much adult fiction these days. I really like it, but it usually takes me longer to read adult fiction. I read slow as it is, so that’s not really an incentive to pick one up. But I had my eyes out looking for interesting adult fiction at ALA when I went last week because I really miss it. I picked up Arrowood because the cover caught my eye, and after I read the back so did the blurb. Funny enough, I had already marked this book as “want to read” on Goodreads.
I’m not sure why I thought this book would be more of a thriller than it was. I would categorize it as more like a mystery. It’s atmospheric and character driven, but it’s definitely not all that suspenseful. That doesn’t mean it’s boring, because it wasn’t for me, but it’s slower paced with a very haunting tone. It’s a book you can set down (not because it’s bad though) and come back to, engrossing yourself in the time and place once again.
Simply put, the book is about a young woman who returns to her childhood home after her grandfather wills it to her upon his death. Her twin sisters were kidnapped there while they were playing in the front yard. Arden holds herself responsible because she left them for a couple minutes to go in the backyard to pick flowers. The basic plot is her unraveling what really happened that day and solving the mystery of her sisters’ disappearance.
There’s a little bit of romance, an undertone of menace, a rambling, crumbling mansion on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in Iowa. Set in the town of Keokuk, a place that was once a beautiful, prosperous city, it’s now full of abandoned homes and derelict businesses. The writing is REALLY great, and it was my favorite thing about the novel. The plot is rather simple and subtle, but the weaving of the atmosphere and characterizations into the novel is what makes the book super special.
The one thing I feel I must mention is that the mystery of the twins is rather easy to solve. It’s not hidden all that well, but I’m not sure it was supposed to be either. Arrowood was more about the journey than the end result. So in that sense it’s not your typical mystery. It wasn’t a perfect book for me, because my expectations were a bit different than what I got, but I still very much enjoyed it and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys books like this.