Darcy C. (San Diego, CA)
This story was adept at pulling the reader into the lives of a mother and daughter, trying to adjust to their new life after the death of their husband (and father). In the mother's new teaching job at a boarding school, the reader is rooting for their successes at their new life. The story builds palpable suspenseful momentum in connection with some of the creeper things going on at their new home and school. They live in a cottage on the school grounds so there is no escaping from the creepiness. The author weaves a complicated story including some of the inexplicable deaths that have occurred in the school's history. The boarding school is rich with a convoluted mix of benefactors and foul play. Even in the serene setting of an Upstate New York boarding school, everyone has their own motives and secrets for their mysterious behaviours.
The story-line weakened about 3/4 of the way through with too-many characters clouding the reader's involvement with the mother and daughter. In spite of this, I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a light mystery without a tragic ending. At the conclusion of the story, you are able to once again root for the protagonists in their search for a fulfilling new life together.
This modern day, Gothic novel was a quick, enjoyable read. It pulled me in quickly and kept me reading. The prose was well written and the characters, while not particularly complex, were likable and fleshed out. The story had plenty of twists and turns, although the final one was a bit of a stretch in terms of believability. Overall a good atmospheric tale to curl up with on a stormy day.
Jerry W. (Waxhaw, NC)
I became acquainted with Carol Goodman in "The Lake of Dead Languages." "Arcadia Falls" has a similar feeling. It is filled with a sense of place (atmosphere) and is fast-moving. This is another gothic story that has buried secrets and supernatural elements. I found the book a very enjoyable light read.
Kristen H. (Lowell, MA)
Secrets of the Past Haunt the Present
"Arcadia Falls" is an amazing story that explores the idea that the past can hold secrets that affect those in the present day when discovered in many different ways. The strong characters and strong plot kept me from wanting to put it down even to sleep. I will be on the lookout for more books from Carol Goodman when I visit my library.
Diane L. (NY, NY)
A Literary Mystery
Author Carol Goodman sets her literary mystery Arcadia Falls in Hudson Valley area of upstate New York. My husband's family lives there, so I found the setting of interest and got a better feel for the area. It is set in winter, and the reader can feel the chill of a Hudson Valley winter.
The protagonist is unique - a folklore teacher, studying two authors who wrote fairy tales while living in an artists' colony they founded in the Hudson Valley. The relationship between the recently widowed teacher and her teenage daughter was insightful and realistic.
Casual mystery readers should be able to guess the identity of the killer midway through the story, although the motive behind the murder seemed a little unsatisfying.
The novel did make me more curious as to the story of the fairy tale artists; perhaps Goodman will expand upon those characters featuring their story in a future novel.
Doreen L. (Windsor, CT)
Arcadia Falls: More Than a Fairy Tale Mystery
This is a wonderful book. Moreover, it can be read on various levels--as a fairytale within a fairytale, a gothic mystery with many twists and turns, a literary novel, a psychological study, a cultural discourse regarding women having to choose between career and family, or as a perspective on the development of an artist. Yet, the novel also depicts a landscape and atmosphere which suggest a primeval presence that resonate in our psyches. In all, Ms Goodman uses her knowledge of mythology, folklore, and fairytales to weave a very satisfying novel that is superbly written.
Patty S. (Baltimore, MD)
I Expected More
One of the first things I noticed about Arcadia Falls was the prose. It is one of Goodman’s strong points. It wasn’t enough, however, to keep me interested for more than a chapter or two at a time. The story, set in the Catskills, is of Meg Rothstein and her daughter, Sally, who journey from their upscale Great Neck, NY home to a musty cottage owned by the private boarding school where Meg will teach English after husband and father, Jude, dies and leaves them with nothing more than memories and a great deal of debt.
The twists and turns this work takes seem convoluted to me. It could have ended with the first big revelation, but it didn’t and I soon became bored enough to think, “okay, now what?” It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to the end of a book and, aloud, said, “Oh, please.” I won’t be recommending this one. Loved the prose, didn’t love the story.