Arrowood by Laura McHugh

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Arrowood by Laura McHugh

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Amy Etherington
Reviewed by Amy Etherington
Summary: Arrowood is a gothic mystery thriller that starts slow but successfully manages to keep you hooked. This is a great novel to read if you're looking for something engaging and thrilling, but not too dark.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 278 Date: August 2016
Publisher: Century
External links: [ Author's website]
ISBN: 978-1780891927

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Arrowood lies amongst the ornate historical houses that line the Mississippi River in Southern Iowa - a house rich with money, history, and mystery. It has been nearly twenty years since Arden Arrowood's infant twin sisters vanished under her watch, never to be seen again. The disappearance of the twins broke Arden's family – her parents divorced and they moved from the house that has been in her family for generations. But the mystery was never solved and now Arden has inherited Arrowood, allowing her to finally return to her childhood home. Still clinging to the hope that her sisters might still be alive, Arden is anxious yet determined to finally uncover the truth about what happened that fateful summer day.

I was really intrigued by the premise of this novel. A mystery thriller concerning two long-lost sisters, told from the perspective of their older sister who, just a child herself when they vanished, has been trying to make sense of what happened. The story was quite slow to begin with and it took a little time for my interest to really be captured, but once holes began to appear in the original theory behind the twins' disappearance, I was hooked and just had to know what happened. It's not the fastest moving thriller but it still manages to be an enjoyable story, suitable if you want an entertaining beach read that isn't too heavy.

The story is told in the first-person narrative by Arden, who comes across as a bit of an unreliable narrator – she's clearly gone through some distressing times since her sisters disappeared, and her desire for the truth about her sisters is clouded by what she wants to believe is true. Arden is approached by amateur detective Josh Kyle, who has read about the twins' disappearance and believes there were faults in the primary investigation. But digging up the past means revisiting all parts of Arden's old life: her former best friend and old love Ben, her sordid family affairs, and her childhood memories which she increasingly starts to doubt. There's definitely a lot more to this story than meets the eye and even as things slowly begin to make sense, yet more secrets emerge.

It looks very simple on the surface but there are lots of layers to this story which is what made it so gripping – it really feels like you're delving into the complicated past of a family full of secrets.

Arrowood is a very quick read and despite its relaxed start, I found it to be a worthwhile and intriguing mystery that had me constantly questioning what the outcome would be. Are the twins alive? Are Arden's memories correct? Everything is cloaked with ambiguity and you're never sure which direction things will go in. So whilst not fast-paced, this still did its job at keeping me hooked.

If you like mystery thrillers that are steady and gentle in their build-up I would recommend In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, which is another entertaining easy read. You might also enjoy Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach.

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