"For its darkness and its glee, I loved this novel." —Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
A high school music festival goes awry when a young prodigy disappears from the most infamous room in the Bellweather Hotel, in a whip-smart novel sparkling with dark and giddy humor
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, including quiet bassoonist Rabbit Hatmaker and his brassy diva twin, Alice, have gathered in its cavernous, crumbling halls for the annual Statewide festival; Minnie has returned to face her demons; and a colossal snowstorm is threatening to trap them all in the hotel. Then Alice's roommate goes missing—from room 712. The search for her entwines an eccentric cast of characters: conductors and caretakers, failures and stars, teenagers on the verge and adults trapped in memories. For everyone has come to the Bellweather with a secret, and everyone is haunted.
Bellweather Rhapsody is a genre-bending page-turner, full of knowing nods to pop culture classics from The Shining to Agatha Christie to Glee. But its pleasures are beautifully deepened by Kate Racculia's skill with her characters, her melancholy, affecting writing about music, and her fearlessness about the loss and darkness that underline the truest humor. This is a wholly winning new novel from a writer to watch.
I read this book for a book club and, since the author lives in the area, we were lucky enough to have the author come to the club when we met to discuss it. The meeting was unusual since we were able to ask Kate about the book and why she wrote things certain ways, where she got the ideas from and anything else we might have been wondering about the book. I used to read mysteries all the time in high school, but not so much in recent years. I enjoyed going back to my mystery roots and seeing what I was able to figure out as I read. There were twists and turns, especially towards the end, some of which I saw coming and some that I did not!
Rabbit has a secret that he hopes to reveal to his twin sister at the festival, but when her roommate disappears and Minnie and her dog appear, he decides to bide his time. I loved how everyone has their own private demons that peak their heads out and decide how much out in the open they want to be. How civilized someone can seem when inside they are anything but and how not everyone is working with the same moral compass. Many of the adults were working from a position of how to work though what happened in their past and how to move towards a future they can look forward to. Whereas the students are all sure that they are the best at what they do and have bright futures ahead of them, but do they? How many of these musicians will still be at their craft in ten years? How many of them really have a chance to make a life at it and should the adults encourage them to reach for the stars or suggest they think about ways music can be a part of their lives, but maybe not their career.
Along with all these personal concerns there is the issue of the missing first flute. How can she have disappeared in a hotel in the middle of nowhere in a blizzard? Where can she be and who took her? I loved how there were so many stories going on at the same time, sometimes together and sometimes in opposite directions, but moving along. I loved the high incidence of twins, which was on purpose, starting with Alice and Rabbit and going from there. I really can't say more without revealing answers to mysteries and I hate when people do that! I am so glad this was a book club pick because I'm not sure I would have found it on my own. I'm loving being involved in a book club because it is getting me to read books that I might have missed.
I have been reading like crazy, but never seemed to get around to blogging about it. Then about a month ago I decided I wanted to and I couldn't get into my account. It was so frustrating! Tonight I decided to give it another try and I got in! Not sure what I was doing wrong then, but I am happy to be back and hope to make the time to start posting about all the great books I've been reading.