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Goodreads Blurb: Tripping Arcadia: A Gothic Novel
From debut author Kit Mayquist, a propulsive and atmospheric modern Gothic with all the splendor of The Great Gatsby . . . and all the secrets, lies, and darkness that opulence can hide.
Med school dropout Lena is desperate for a job, any job, to help her parents, who are approaching bankruptcy after her father was injured and laid off nearly simultaneously. So when she is offered a position, against all odds, working for one of Boston’s most elite families, the illustrious and secretive Verdeaus, she knows she must accept it—no matter how bizarre the interview or how vague the job description.
By day, she is assistant to the family doctor and his charge, Jonathan, the sickly, poetic, drunken heir to the family empire, who is as difficult as his illness is mysterious. By night, Lena discovers the more sinister side of the family, as she works overtime at their lavish parties, helping to hide their self-destructive tendencies . . . and trying not to fall for Jonathan’s alluring sister, Audrey.
But when she stumbles upon the knowledge that the Verdeau patriarch is the one responsible for the ruin of her own family, Lena vows to get revenge—a poison-filled quest that leads her further into this hedonistic world than she ever bargained for, forcing her to decide how much—and who—she’s willing to sacrifice for payback.
The perfect next read for fans of Mexican Gothic, Tripping Arcadia is a page-turning and shocking tale with an unforgettable protagonist that explores family legacy and inheritance, the sacrifices we must make to get by in today’s world, and the intoxicating, dangerous power of wealth.
My Glowing Five Star Review:
Tripping Arcadia grabbed my attention with “queer Gothic thriller” description (and that cover) and held me until the final paragraph. Filled with decadence that hides a dark underbelly, rich (literally and descriptively) characters, and an MC wrapped in shades of morally grey, this book was well-worth staying up well past my bedtime to devour.
Lena returns to her childhood home after a stint learning at the side of her plant-loving (and deciphering) Aunt in Italy to find things are…not great. Her parents are struggling to make rent after the abrupt end of her father’s career and her life is certainly not what she’d set out to make it. Lena finds a job as an assistant to the family physician of Verdeau family – only the job is about more than dispensing the occasional asprin. Lena is drawn into uncovering the truth behind the aliments that plague Jonathan (the heir to the riches of the Verdeau empire) just as deeply as she’s drawn to the allure of his sister, Aubrey.
The Verdeau’s are decadently wealthy and use their chokehold on the people around them to host lavish parties (really more like bachannalias) at their sequestered estate in New England. Lena soon finds her job is about saving the attendees of these parties (and her employers) from the press and after effects of the parties that would put Jay Gatsby’s to shame. With every late-night and stolen conversation with Aubrey, Lena is pulled into a world closer than her paycheck-to-paycheck life we would expect.
I have been trying to find books that fill the Mexican Gothic shaped hole in reading life and this has the same vibes. Tripping Arcadia has my favorite “there’s something rotten under this finery” feel and the atmospheric descriptions and prose to keep you in a constant state of worry and wonder. Kit Mayquist has already mastered the art of the slow-burn when it comes to revealing the secrets Lena and the Verdeaus are trying to protect. Lena, Aubrey, and Jonathan are complex characters with elegantly crafted flaws that seem to make me (sometimes begrudgingly) empathize with the worst behavior.
This book would be a perfect pick for those looking for a modern take on the traditional outsider-gets-caught-in-old-money-family’s-web that includes phenomenal queer representation, dark and moody vibes, and a jaw-dropping and instantly re-readable finale.
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for the ARC of Tripping Arcadia in exchange for an honest review – this is a must buy for me!
You can order your copy of Tripping Arcadia at Bookshop.org here!