Book Title: Arrowood
Author: Laura McHugh
Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Suspense
Date Read: 10/06/16
Pub Date: 08/09/16
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.
This is my second read by author Laura McHugh this year, and while this was still a good read, I think I enjoyed The Weight of Blood a bit more. I was expecting something of a similar feel in this one, but to my surprise it was very different. I requested this one on NetGalley upon finishing TWOB, but I managed to read a few reviews before starting it and, to my disappointment, realized the ending was a point of contention for many folks. No worries; there have been many books that the masses weren’t feeling that I fan-girled over, so I thought maybe this would be a similar case. I quickly found however that the masses were correct in this one.
Again, this isn’t a negative review; McHugh has uber talent and knows how to use beautiful language to write scenery, settings, and build a creeping sense of dread. The language is rich and succulent; it feels like a treat to be privy to her writing. Over the course of this read, I felt the tension grow and grow to the point I wanted to scream “Let’s get to the end already!!!”; the pacing was very steady (maybe even a bit slow for my liking) and thorough. Once we get to the ending, the reader has to decide if they are the type to become imaginative and use their own perspectives to fill in some wholes; this was hard for me as I was expecting some major twist, or at least full closure due to how the story was told, but there is neither in this story. This is a well-written read that showcases the author’s talent, but fans of the twisty, suspenseful thriller may be disappointed if you go into this one reading for the wrong reasons. I will definitely be reading whatever Laura McHugh puts out next, as she has really captured my attention with her first novel and continued to pique it with her second.
*I would like to thank the author and publisher for my copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. I received my eagerly via NetGalley.