Book Review: Arrowood By Laura McHugh


A gothic mystery, Arrowood tells the story of Arden Arrowood returning to her old town in the South of America and the Arrowood house that had once been grand. Arden’s life has been blighted by what once was, especially the disappearance of her twin sisters many many years ago. Now back in the house they disappeared from and with the help of a private investigator Arden Arrowood begins to put together the pieces of the past that may lead to clues to what really happened to her sister’s all those years ago.


Not quite a paperback thriller and not quite literary, Arrowood sits in the middle. I’d venture the audience for Arrowood are not mystery fans but are more interested in southern gothic dramas.

All in all, if you’re into atmospheric pieces look no further.

The Good 

Arrowood is a gorgeously written story, in the style of southern gothic, descriptions of curtains and forgotten bedrooms leave you with a certain sense of sadness

The premise itself is personally fascinating to me, Arden Arrowood is the girl left behind while her sisters are taken. She’s grown up being surrounded by other people’s tragedies  which has made her a uniquely sad character and the

I appreciate aspects of the supporting cast including the private investigator who comes onto the scene with his own theories about what really happened to the Arrowood twins

At times the set up to the suspense was very intriguing, you won’t be able to guess the ending at least not for the first half

The Bad 

At 280 pages with relatively big writing, I was expecting an easy read going into this but Arrowood seemingly dragged on for a bulk of it’s middle. Elements of the slowness came from back story and side drama that just felt like filler, with such a short book I want to know that I’m getting somewhere.

The disappearance of the Arrowood sisters was set up as the main focus of the first half of the book and then it sort of waned as it continued.

The descriptions started out quite interesting and really got you to experience the heat, the loneliness and the depression of the Arrowood house and the same descriptions repeat throughout the book

For a book set up to be so much about family, we don’t really get to see a lot of them. We more or less hear about them second hand or through Arden just straight up explaining what went on the reader and I’m not sure if I cared for that.

The Conclusion 

Arrowood is a beautiful book but maybe that’s just it, surface level beauty and not much else, maybe I’ll reread in a couple of months to try and get a grasps of elements I may have missed. I felt like this book picked up towards the end and the conclusion was satisfactory but I didn’t feel like I got the emotional pay off from slogging through the middle of it so I’m not sure if it was worth it.

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