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.
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.
Patricia S. (Chicago, IL)
I have been a huge fan of Carol Goodman since discovering her a couple of years ago and eagerly awaited her newest book. I was not disappointed. In Arcadia Falls, Goodman returns to upstate New York, at a private art school in the hills, and literature teacher Meg Rosenthal. The art school has been the scene of one tragic death in the steep valley adjoining the campus and almost as soon as Meg arrives, another death occurs in a fall from the same ridge. Were they both accidental? The suspense grows until the frightening ending, and in true Goodman style, things were never what they seemed. Goodman's wonderful language fills the book, bringing to life the woods turning to winter, the main street of a small arts town, and the teenage students. Although the revelation of identities and relations at the end of the book seemed rushed and not quite true to the story, I would still give this book a top rating.
Karen R. (Columbus, OH)
Very Good Read
I normally do not like "stories within stories." When I read a book, I like to read the main story. In Acadia Falls, there are several stories within stories, and I enjoyed all of them. This is a book that I thought about when I was not reading, and looked forward to getting back to. All of the stories. The writing was good, the characters were interesting, and the multiple stories all very engaging.
Jeanne M. (Vancouver, WA)
Fairy Tales Can Come True
Reading Arcadia Falls was consuming and rewarding, reminiscent of the magic and witchery in the novels of Alice Hoffman.
In Goodman's latest novel, she deftly weaves a fairy tale into the story of the founders of a school in Arcadia Falls, and the current population at the school.
The fairy tale is also the link between mother and daughter as they become teacher and student at the school. The parallels between the past and present events, leads the reader through the traditional celebrations that are central to the unfolding of the past and present lives.
Goodman's ability to draw the reader into the understanding of the fairy tale as a part of the past, and its relationship to the present, speaks to her gift of story-telling.
I am a member of Bella Voce, a local book club recently instituted in the Portland, OR. Metropolitan Area. (BellaVoce.com)
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.