There is something about mythology that I love. It’s always been that way. Greek, Norse, Native American, Egyptian. I love them all. And, I think, that is one of the things I love best about “Arcadia Falls” by Carol Goodman.
This story has all kinds of myths, fairy tales and legends built into it. There are so many, I would argue that they almost become a third plot, which when you combine with the other two can become a little overwhelming. I don’t want to get ahead of myself though, so first a synopsis.
“Arcadia Falls” tells the story of Meg Rosenthal, recently widowed and impoverished, as she tries to make a life for herself and her daughter, Sally. Sally is your typical angst-ridden teenage girl. Meg and Sally are moving from the New York City area to a remote upstate boarding school, Arcadia, focused on the arts.
Things quickly heat up when on their first night at the school a student, Isabelle Chaney, falls to her death from a ledge overlooking an ominous ravine, which will come to feature heavily throughout the book.
The second plot to this book is introduced when Meg finds out that Isabelle’s death is eerily reminiscent of Lily Eberhardt’s death in the 40s. Through some of Meg’s investigation she finds out there was a strange love triangle between Lily and two other artists at Arcadia when it was an artist’s colony. Goodman introduces Vera Beecher, the owner of Arcadia and school’s founder, and Virgil Nash, another artist who fancied Lily his muse.
Goodman weaves Meg’s present day story, Lily’s historical story and the many myths together into a very rich whole. One of my favorite things about this book is the rich imagery. She turns the forest surrounding Arcadia into an ominous character in its own right. You can feel the darkness, the cold and the total creepiness of the woods.
One of the things I struggled with as I listened to the story though were the huge number of characters. Not only did I have to remember who all the present day teachers and students were, but I also had to remember all the historical characters and then the mythological characters. With so many characters, it was hard to really connect with too many of them.
For example, Meg’s love interest in the book is Sheriff Callum Reade. I just never did seem to care about him that much and there were pieces of him that never added up for me. The other character I wished I could have cared about more was the school’s dean, Ivy St. Claire. They all just seemed a bit like shadows you could never quite get a solid look at.
I had a sneaking suspicion that some of this might have been because of the narrator of this audio book. I struggled with all of her voices she created for the characters. It may have been easier if she had simply read the book and not given everyone their own voice. Sheriff Reade’s was hard for me to find smoldering, if you know what I mean.
Goodman created a fabulous atmosphere in “Arcadia Falls” and it was one I was willing to explore. I just wish I’d had the ability to connect better with the characters.