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Arrowood by Laura McHugh

Arrowood is the second novel by Laura McHugh; however, it is the first one that I've read.  This novel is described as Gothic on its cover.  And it is Gothic indeed with its setting and dark portrayal of a dysfunctional family destroyed by a dark tragedy.

After her father dies, Arden Arrowood inherits the family's stately, old house in Keokuk, Iowa, that bears her family's name.  At Arrowood she hopes to forge a life, make a home, and find some closure regarding a family tragedy that occurred during her childhood.  But Keokuk is itself decaying as are most of its stately, old homes, and Arden herself is marked by the tragedy that destroyed her family and uprooted her from the only home she'd ever known.

Arden has been haunted all her life by her twin sisters' disappearance from the family's front yard two decades ago.  The last one to see them before they disappeared, she is one of two witnesses to have seen a mysterious gold car driving away from the scene of the kidnapping with her sisters in its back seat.  And in the decades since, the case has gone cold and the mystery of her sisters' fates and whereabouts remains unsolved and unknown.

The return to Arrowood has dredged up the past for Arden as she delves into her memories from that day and attempts to resolve some of the mystery surrounding her sisters' disappearance.  Spurred on by an amateur detective with a motive and an agenda of his own that includes the disappearance of his own brother, Arden begins to question the reliability of her memories of that day.  Most tellingly she identifies and tries to fill in the gaps that exist in her memory of the immediate wake of her sisters' disappearance that day.  As Arden wanders aimlessly through the old, rundown Arrowood house, she becomes plagued by the phantom sounds of running water, the appearance of a button from one of the dresses her sisters wore the day they disappeared, and phone calls from a mysterious man to the house's landline.  What does all of this mean?  What happened to her sisters all those years ago?

This is a page turning, twisted, dark, Gothic mystery.  And it's conclusion is terrifying and pulse pounding as well as dark and twisted.  The answers that Arden finds are as dark, heartbreaking, and disturbing as  her sisters' fates all those years ago.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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