Arden's life has been difficult. Her mother and father divorced; her mother is remarried to an evangelist and living in Minnesota. She still pops pills, drinks and watches HSN. Arden's mother doesn't really want much to do with her daughter. Arden's father was a wanderer, a con man, and a disappointment to Arden's grandfather, the owner of Arrowood. Such a disappointment that he forbade his son from living in the family home. It sat empty for years, until his death. Now Arden has returned because she has nowhere else to go and is at a crossroads in her life.
Josh contacts Arden regarding a book he is writing about the Arrowood kidnapping. He believes he has proof that the man who was accused of kidnapping the twins (but never charged with their disappearance) has been telling the truth all along, that he was innocent. Could Arden's memories of that day be wrong? If so, what really happened to the Violet and Tabitha? Could they still be alive, somewhere?
But Arden's stay in the house is a bit eerie. Water drips down windows, the giant claw-foot tub in the bathroom leaks. Sometimes she thinks she feels her sisters around her. Is it her imagination, or are they messages from beyond?
I enjoyed this novel, but I was hoping for a bit more supernatural spookiness. Laura McHugh does a very good job of portraying a town haunted by its past, and the destruction that can happen to a family when tragedy visits and leaves unanswered questions. I felt bad for Arden. Her life was profoundly changed by the disappearance of her little sisters, and her guilt at not keeping them safe. You may be surprised by the ending, or not.
Rating: 6/10 for a good read with a main character who is complex because she's had such a messed up life. Secondary characters round it all out to bring in that small town feel of secrets, gossip, and hidden passions.
Available in hardcover and e-book.