- Posted by Johanna on August 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm
- Category: Books and Prose
- CREDITS: by Kate Racculia
- PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $25 US
I got Bellweather Rhapsody from my local library, and I read it through in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. The publisher describes the book as “full of knowing nods to pop culture classics from The Shining to Agatha Christie to Glee.” True enough.
The Bellweather Hotel is a decaying old Catskills resort, the location of a high school music festival that promises great things for the few who stand out there. Alice and Rabbit, twins, are attending this year, accompanied by their teacher, Natalie Wilson. But everyone and everything has a secret.
Alice is unsure about herself, although she’s confident in her talent. Maybe too confident. Her brother Rabbit has been keeping a significant revelation from her for the first time in his life. Their chaperone is new in town, fleeing her previous job after a disturbing nighttime accident.
While at the hotel, they meet Hastings, the long-time concierge; the scarred Scottish orchestra conductor Brodie; Viola Fabian, the beautiful but vicious head of the program; and Minnie, who as a child 15 years ago attended a wedding at the hotel. There, she saw a bride kill her new husband before hanging herself in room 712, an event that has forever shaped her life. Things get really weird during a snowstorm that traps everyone in place, when Alice’s roommate Jill (who’s also Viola’s daughter) disappears from that same room.
Reveals pile upon each other as the mystery progresses, perhaps with too many neat tie-ups, although I thought author Kate Racculia gave them all sufficient grounding. She certainly creates memorable, three-dimensional characters I wanted to spend time with. At the end, she thanks Ellen Raskin, and the comparison is apt — this is much like one of her books, but for adults. The themes of memory and music as emotional transport and the darkness in human loneliness are resonant.