Arrowood by Laura McHugh
Read: November 20 – 24, 2016
Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)
My Book Rating: 3 Stars
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (Random House)
ABOUT THE BOOK
A haunting novel from the author of The Weight of Blood about a young woman’s return to her childhood home—and her encounter with the memories and family secrets it holds
Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago—never to be seen again. After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. And Arden’s own life has fallen apart: She can’t finish her master’s thesis, and a misguided love affair has ended badly. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer.
Arden’s return to the town of Keokuk—and the now infamous house that bears her name—is greeted with curiosity. But she is welcomed back by her old neighbor and first love, Ben Ferris, whose family, she slowly learns, knows more about the Arrowoods’ secrets and their small, closed community than she ever realized. With the help of a young amateur investigator, Arden tracks down the man who was the prime suspect in the kidnapping. 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.
Arrowood is a powerful and resonant novel that examines the ways in which our lives are shaped by memory. As with her award-winning debut novel, The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh has written a thrilling novel in which nothing is as it seems, and in which our longing for the past can take hold of the present in insidious and haunting ways.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Arrowood is sort of difficult for me to review. I liked it, but for the most part I wasn’t left with the OMG I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT feeling.
Part mystery, part ghost story, Arrowood is the story of Arden Arrowood. After the loss of her two year old twin sisters when she was just eight years old, she’s spent the last twenty years stumbling through life. I don’t want to say too much, but the disappearance of her sisters set the stage for her entire life.
What was cool about this story was that it was a ghost story, without being a ghost story. There are no actual ghosts or paranormal investigators looking for cold spots, but there are plenty of spooky happenstances that occur in the house which the reader is led to believe is the work of ghosts. That was pretty cool. The reader can decide if ghosts are at work or not.
As far as the mystery, as we get to know Arden and the cast of characters around her, everyone becomes a suspect. There were so many red herrings, any one of them could have done it. I was actually surprised by the actual ending – and it’s a doozey of an ending!
I wish I could pinpoint exactly what wasn’t working for me. It could be all of the time Arden spent reflecting on her past. I like a book to be told in the present, but a lot of this book was Arden reflecting on her childhood friendships, the loss of her sisters, her time at college, and so on. Every scene was important to the story, and I can’t think of another way to get the information across, but I think it pulled this readers attention away from the book at times.
In the end, I did enjoy this story but I don’t think it’s going to be one that stays with me long after I’ve read it.
END NOTE: I think this would be a really interesting book for a book club to discuss. In fact, I sort of wish now that I belonged to a book club so we could dissect this book as a group!
Get the Arrowood here:
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I worried that the old me would vanish if there was no one left to confirm her existence.
I wished that I had been taken, too, so they wouldn’t have been alone. Instead, I was left behind and they went on without me, their lives from that moment a whispered secret that would never reach my ears.
It’s a date, I typed. Moments after clicking Sent, I had texter’s remorse. Should I have phrased it differently?
Darkness was kind, cloaking disappointing truths in mystery.
It didn’t feel right to move forward, to be happy and fall in love, to fill in the empty spaces, and so I had stood still and saved their place while the rest of the world moved on.