Arcadia Falls: Book summary and reviews of Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman

Arcadia Falls

By Carol Goodman

Arcadia Falls
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2010,
    368 pages.

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Book Summary

There once was a girl who liked to pretend she was lost ...

Meg Rosenthal is driving toward the next chapter in her life. Winding along a wooded roadway, her car moves through a dense forest setting not unlike one in the bedtime stories Meg used to read to her daughter, Sally. But the girl riding beside Meg is a teenager now, and has exchanged the land of make-believe for an iPod and some personal space. Too much space, it seems, as the chasm between them has grown since the sudden, unexpected death of Meg's husband.

Dire financial straits and a desire for a fresh start take Meg and Sally from a comfortable life on Long Island to a tucked-away hamlet in upstate New York: Arcadia Falls, where Meg has accepted a teaching position at a boarding school. The creaky, neglected cottage Meg and Sally are to call home feels like an ill portent of things to come, but Meg is determined to make the best of it—and to make a good impression on the school's dean, the diminutive, elegant Ivy St. Clare.

St. Claire, however, is distracted by a shocking crisis: During Arcadia’s First Night bonfire, one of Meg’s folklore students, Isabel Cheney, plunges to her death in a campus gorge. Sheriff Callum Reade finds Isabel’s death suspicious, but then, he is a man with secrets and a dark past himself.

Meg is unnerved by Reade's interest in the girl's death, and as long-buried secrets emerge, she must face down her own demons and the danger threatening to envelop Sally. As the past clings tight to the present, the shadows, as if in a terrifying fairy tale, grow longer and deadlier.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[H]er storytelling is as solid as ever, and the book is reliably entertaining. " - Publishers Weekly

"Goodman combines gripping suspense with strong characters and artistic themes. Those who read Anita Shreve or Jodi Picoult are likely to become fans." - Library Journal

"Passably engaging, principally for its meditations on the ever-shifting challenges facing women artists." - Kirkus Reviews

"Carol Goodman’s luminous prose and superb storytelling will keep you entertained into the late hours." - Nancy Pickard

"[An] atmospheric and magical book.... I’m certain it will be among my favorites for 2010." - January Magazine

The information about Arcadia Falls shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Sarah Kary
Most wonderful fairy tale inside of a great story
I actually listened to this book from Audible.com. I drive for a living and am constantly listening to books. This one was a definate winner. I enjoyed every part of the story. Goodman do a good job with every aspect of the story. I was creeped out,I giggled, I was sad, ..ya know, all the right feelings at the times she wanted me to feel them. The fairy tale that's wrapped up inside the story, however, was the icing on the literay cake. I actually told it to my daughter, and it's her favorite bedtime story & she always wants me to tell it whenever we have time. Its a mystery with a feel of old secrets and the stories and legends of the setting add a magical feeling. I am going to listen to this again for sure!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Darcy C. (San Diego, CA)
Arcadia Falls
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.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by JD (NY)
Arcadia Falls
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.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Jerry W. (Waxhaw, NC)
Another Winner
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.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Diane D
Great Gothic Feel!
Meg Rosenthal is offered a job at a private boarding school in Upstate New York, and she thinks this will be the new start she's looking for. Recently widowed, with a sixteen year old daughter, Meg makes the move to Arcadia, the art school she's been hired at.

From the very start, it's apparent that things are done a bit differently at Arcadia. Students, and faculty celebrate pagan rituals, and before long, things begin to take a sinister turn as a student is found dead.

A great mix of Gothic and mystery that should hold your interest. I liked the book but felt that this Goodman selection seemed more geared to the Young Adult genre.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by 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.

...15 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Carol Goodman Author Biography

Carol Goodman grew up on Long Island, attended public school, and started writing at age nine, when her fourth grade teacher introduced the topic "Creative Writing." She wrote a ninety-page, crayon-illustrated epic entitled The Adventures of the Magical Herd in which a girl named Carol lives with a herd of magical horses. She knew from that moment that she wanted to be a writer.

During her teens Goodman wrote poetry and was awarded Young Poet of Long Island by Long Island University at the age of 17. She took a break from writing to major in Latin at Vassar College, never realizing that her first published novel would be about a Latin teacher. After college, she worked in publishing and then a series of less demanding office jobs while writing short stories at night. Then she went ...

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