Arcadia Falls

Title: Arcadia Falls
Author: Carol Goodman
Pub Date: 2010
Pages: 368
Genre: Literary Fiction, Folklore, Fairy, & Myth
Challenge: New Author, GLBT
Disclosure: LT Early Review

For the most part I want to say: Wow. Oh wow! This novel is so-o-O amazing and so-o-O beautiful I was immediately drawn in. Plus, it's multilayered, so it's like getting two books in one. Always a good deal, right. But that's for the most part. I'll get to the least part in a few...

meg just recently lost her husband and moves to a remote boarding school (Arcadia Falls) in upstate New York with her typical moody, morose, and artistic teenaged daughter, Sally. Meg is pretty excited about the job as instructor because (a) she's never really had a job since Sally was born and has no idea how else to support the two of them and (b) Meg is working on her dissertation on fairy tales in 19th century woman's literature and one of the women that she is studying happens to be a co-founder to Arcadia Falls.

Now that's the forefront of the story: Meg and Sally in Arcadia Falls and the mystery surrounding a death (or two) during the pagan traditions honored by the school. The underlying story of the co-founders of Arcadia Falls (lovers Lily and Vera) are more than just a backdrop as the past catapults itself into the center of the mysterious deaths.

I really loved the story of Lily and Vera as much as I did Meg and Sally's. Lily and Vera not only manage Arcadia Falls but they write and illustrate a fairy tale, "The Changeling", which is shared throughout the novel. "The Changeling", from my understanding is a common literary convention used in fairy tales where a character is replaced by a mirrored alternative. I had little information about fairy tales, and this book definitely made me start googling left and right for more bits and information. Plus, I felt like I was being taught by Meg when she would lecture some of the students, and hell, her activities were pretty cool. I wished I was at Arcadia Falls.

So here's the thing. There were bits and pieces of this book where I would read a chapter and then zone out. Man, it was that beautiful. My mind did not want to read further but I didn't want to leave the mood that it thrust me into. I can only compare it to those moments when you're sitting in a warm bubble bath and you know hat this must be heaven. That relaxed feeling? Where your eyes are halfway open and halfway closed and your mind is just THERE? In that moment? It was kinda like that.

Plus, pulling literature into literature is a convention that I absolutely adore and Goodman does that plenty. I mean, what?! The setting is a boarding school. Of course there is homework and references!

And now you're probably wondering that I did open implying there were aspects of the novel that I just did not dig as much as I dug the rest...it's true. Don't you get terribly frustrated when an author is being brilliant and then the brilliance seems to be an insecurity so they try to one-up themselves only to reach fail status? Well, that's kinda sorta what happened here. There were twists and turns and I felt exhilarated and rushed and gasped for air. Fingers were gripped against the book because I didn't figure it out. And then, when the ride should have slowed down, it kept going. At full speed. No longer was I screaming and ooooohing and ahhhhhhing, but I was a twelve year old kid who had just eaten hot dogs and cotton candy and soda. I wanted off of the ride about thirty pages earlier.

Still a good read? Sho e'nuff! In fact, better then good. But not great. Plus, I'm totally gonna check out some more Goodman.

And I'm really stoked that I've found this whole new genre of books that I'm getting into. I want more literary fiction where they bring in folklore and fairy tales. What you got for me?


  1. This looks awesome, I love the cover too. I have just picked up The Tricking of Freya which has lots of Nordic folklore brought into it. There are lots of books out there that seem to be retelling of fairytales, such as Beastly by Alex Flinn (Beauty and the Beast).

  2. Fairy-inspired fiction is one of my favorites -- something I seek out! Possession by A.S. Byatt is probably the gold standard, but for something a little less highfaluting, and HUGE fun, try Emma Bull's War for the Oaks. Fabulous fabulous book.


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