Sunday, July 16, 2017

"Bellweather Rhapsody" by Kate Racculia

Over the past year, I've purchased several Kindle books recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy ... and as far as I can tell, Bellweather Rhapsody is the only one I've read so far. Perhaps there's a lesson there! (As for what the lesson is, I'm not sure. Request fewer review books so I have time to read the books I buy? Don't be so quick to buy a book? Only buy books when I have time to read them? Or all of the above?)

Fifteen years ago, a murder-suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it, Minnie Graves. Now hundreds of high school musicians have gathered at the Bellweather for the annual Statewide festival; Minnie has returned to face her demons; and a blizzard is threatening to trap them all inside. When a young prodigy disappears from infamous room 712, the search for her entwines an eccentric cast of conductors and caretakers, teenagers on the verge and adults haunted by memories. A genre-bending page-turner, full of playful nods to pop-culture classics from The Shining to Agatha Christie to Glee, Bellweather Rhapsody is a winning new novel from a writer to watch.

In 1997, exactly 15 years after a grisly murder-suicide involving newlyweds at the Bellweather Hotel, another girl is found hanging exactly the same way as the bride during the annual Statewide festival for high school musicians.

What follows is a slow uncovering of what happened—both in 1982 and 1997. The story is told from multiple perspectives (which kept me fairly confused at first and nearly caused me to stop reading less than 10% into the novel): twins Alice and Rabbit Hatmaker, she a self-centered vocal star in the making, he a closeted misfit content to let Alice take the limelight; Natalie Wilson, the Hatmakers' music teacher; Viola Fabian, Statewide's new director; Fisher Brodie, the eccentric Statewide orchestra conductor; Hastings, the Bellweather's longtime concierge; and Minnie, the girl who discovered the bride and groom from the original murder-suicide.

Twists abound throughout the story, characters change in drastic ways, and not all narrators are reliable. This makes for several gasp out loud moments and an overall enjoyable reading experience.

My only complaint about the story itself is that the epilogue really only tells what happened to two characters, and I was so curious about the rest of them! The farther removed I am from this book, the more I like it. I finished it two weeks ago, and I'm still thinking about it ... so basically, someone else needs to read it so we can discuss! 4 stars.

Note: The book contains a smattering of curse words, as well as sexual content including infidelity and homosexuality. There is nothing sexually explicit.

Buy the book.

Kate Racculia
is a writer living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She studied illustration, design, Jane Austen, and Canada at the University of Buffalo and has her MFA from Emerson College. Kate teaches novel and genre fiction workshops at Grub Street, Boston's non-profit creative writing community. She has been a bookseller, a planetarium operator, a coffee jerk, a designer, and a proposal writer. 

She was a teenage bassoonist. In her hometown of Syracuse, New York, she played in her high school band, the Lyncourt Summer Concert Band, the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra, and various NYSSMA festivals. Her bassoon was named Nigel.

Bellweather Rhapsody is her second novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book myself and chose to review it. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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