I read and loved Laura McHugh’s debut novel The Weight of Blood, a creepy story that took place in the Ozark region of Missouri. So I was excited to read her newest novel Arrowood: A Novel, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a page-turner, indeed.
The story is set in an old mansion on the banks of the Mississippi River in Iowa that was home to the Arrowood family for generations. So how do you get any better than a mystery set in a creepy old house?
Arden Arrowood was a young girl when her toddler twin sisters disappeared from the mansion on her watch, never again to be seen or heard. Now, 20 years later, she has inherited the mansion upon the death of her estranged father. At loose ends in her life, Arden is happy to return to the mansion, which she feels was the only place where she really felt at home in her life.
But the house brings back the memories of that day, and she feels compelled to try to solve the mystery of what happened those many years ago. Where did the pretty twin girls go?
I mentioned in the first paragraph that The Weight of Blood took place in the Ozarks. The reason that is even important is because the author is masterful at making the setting part of the story. The town where the mansion is located is an actual town in the southeast tip of Iowa, barely within the state boundaries. I presume her depiction is realistic. It is easy to envision the line of old mansions lining the riverbed as the author so ably describes. That alone makes the story worthwhile.
But the plot is what the reader really sinks his or her teeth into. The story challenges the reader to think about what we really remember in our lives. It’s like the childhood game where one person whispers something into someone’s ear and by the end of the line of children, the story is completely different.
I loved this book and the characters. The ending, while somewhat surprising, had a realistic ring to it when the reader thinks back to the tips we read along the way.
Great, if somewhat spooky, book.