Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review #61: Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman

Title: Arcadia Falls
Author: Carol Goodman
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-345-49753-6
Format: Own copy
Price/Pages: $25.00/355
Out in stores now

My Review and Description:

This book came my way as a gift from my friend, Cheryl. She now lives in Atlanta and has been busy going to many author events. This one came to me autographed! I had my eye on this one when I saw it on a new release table at the bookstore I work at. I have read two other Carol Goodman books; The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water. The Lake of Dead Languages was pretty darn good and The Seduction of Water was so-so.

Her books always have such rich descriptions that you can't help but jump on them. Most of them involve some sort of academia; boarding schools, colleges, etc and educated women. Arcadia Falls fit that bill.

Meg is a recently widowed woman and mother of a teenage daughter, Sally. Having been out of the workforce for some time, Meg accepts a teaching position in upstate New York. Arcadia Falls is tucked away from any hustle or bustle of the city. It's dark, heavily wooded and mysterious. Meg and Sally move in to the run down cottage that used to belong to the founding ladies of the school; Vera and Lily.

Arcadia is a home for gifted, promising art students. It is a place that prides itself on collaboration and expression. Run by Dean Ivy St. Claire (once an assistant to Vera), it still holds a mesmerizing quality over all its guests and students.

Meg is a teacher of folklore and her fascination with the secrets and history of Arcadia and of Vera and Lily propel her into a whirlwind of mystery. When a student falls into the gorge and dies, Meg is quickly swept up in the true darkness of Arcadia. Vulnerable and curious, Meg seeks help from the town sheriff and her fellow teachers. Who can she really trust? How can she keep her own daughter safe?

The plot of this book was quite involved. Told in two parts, I liked how it all came together. Meg's story was first and foremost but upon finding Lily's journal, you then get pieces her story and the background of Arcadia school. What was the relationship between Lily and Vera? What caused Lily's mysterious death at the same gorge? How much does Dean St. Claire know?

Goodman's writing, in my opinion, has improved. She could be compared to Joyce Carol Oates but lacks a bit of fine tuning. I had no real issues with this one. I enjoyed it. It surprised me, it kept me intrigued. The ending, though a bit complicated, shocked me and I liked that. I enjoyed Meg and her inquisitive, yet respectful nature.

I would say this was a ghost story but not overly done. It wasn't trying to spook me but she set the mood quite well with the descriptions of the campus, the woods, the cliffs and the cottage. The actual town of Arcadia Falls though near this lush school, was left somewhat abandoned and run down. You start to get the feeling of how imposing the school really was on everything and everyone.

Cheryl said that once I started it, I would not be able to put it down and she was right. When I did set it down for a bit, the story stuck in my head and I itched to get back to it. I always like when a book makes me feel like that.

Rating: 5 stars/ 6 stars
I highly recommend this one. If you are in the mood for a mystery, a ghost story, a love story or even a historical account of the arts, this is for you. It has a little bit of everything. When I closed the last page, I was satisfied. If you have not read her before, I think this would be a good one to start. The older ones I read are some of her firsts and like I said, her writing has gotten better.

Author's website:

Happy Reading and thanks again for stopping by!

red headed book child

ISBN: 978-0-345-49753-6


Anonymous said...

I have got to read this book. I think I have all of Carol Goodman's books and haven't read any of them yet. I keep thinking that I have but not yet. Maybe this will be the push I need. :-)

Melissa said...

This sounds really good. I love her books.

Rachel said...

Sounds interesting. However I think you may be falls-obsessed.

Missy B. said...

I just reviewed this too! Your review says so much more....I like it!

Cath said...

I love Goodman, and now I want this book SO BAD! Congrats on snagging an autographed copy!!

-Connie @ Constance-Reader.com

Jenny said...

I love the way you reviewed this... very fair and it sounds really good! Adding it to the list..

Julie@My5monkeys said...

going to add this to my reading pile

Cheryl said...

glad you liked it as much as I did!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Great review. Lovely cover.

Lisa said...

Argh! I can't make up my mind on this one. First I read a review that says it's just ok, then I read a raving review, then I read one that says the reader didn't like the ending. Now yours! Okay, okay--it's apparently one I need to read and make up my own mind about.

Ryan said...

This has been on my TBR list and I'm going to have to get to it one of these days.